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Is it Possible for a Tooth to Break After Root Canal Treatment?

September 28, 2023

Root canal treatment is usually recommended for teeth that are significantly damaged/decayed. While unpleasant, this procedure is used to salvage the structure of the natural tooth instead of extracting it. Unfortunately, a tooth that has undergone root canal treatment is much more susceptible to fracture than one that is healthy.

In most cases, root canal treatment is successful. There are very few complications/side effects that may occur following this procedure. However, of the few complaints, a cracked/broken tooth is one of them.

Causes for a Cracked Tooth After a Root Canal

There are several potential reasons that a tooth may crack following root canal treatment, including:

  • Poorly done root canal procedure: Any time you have dental work done, it’s important to work with an experienced dentist that has been trained in the procedure. If you are working with a newer dentist, make sure they are supervised by an experienced one.
  • Accidental trauma to the tooth: If you play contact sports, make sure to wear a mouthguard to prevent accidental trauma to the tooth.
  • Tooth grinding: If you are prone to bruxism, that is clenching/grinding your teeth at night, ask your dentist about a nightguard. If you find that you clench/grind your teeth while you are awake, try to find ways to relax and reduce your stress levels.
  • Excessive dental restorations: Dental restorations are often stronger and more durable than your natural teeth, which can be damaging to opposing teeth. Since the structure of a root canal-treated tooth is weakened, it is more likely to be damaged by a restored tooth.
  • Pre-existing root fractures: If the root canal-treated tooth already has some fractures, even very minor ones, it is much more likely to fracture following treatment, especially with the above factors in play.

Dental implants may be used to replace a single tooth or as support for multi-tooth restoration, such as bridges and dentures. Finally, with proper care and maintenance, dental implants are known to last a lifetime. However, it is important to note that the artificial tooth portion may need to be replaced, depending on how well you care for it.

How to Know If Your Root Canal Treated Tooth is Cracked?

The only way to determine that a tooth is cracked is to visit your dentist. They will perform a comprehensive exam, including x-rays and laser scans. These tests will determine if your tooth is cracked and the severity of the crack, which will help them create an appropriate treatment plan.

However, there are several symptoms that could indicate that you have a cracked tooth after root canal treatment. These symptoms are very similar to those that indicate that you need root canal treatment in the first place:

  • Pain when biting down on the affected tooth
  • Increased sensitivity to hot/cold foods and beverages
  • Sensitivity to sweet foods and beverages
  • Persistent pain on and around the affected tooth
  • Sharp crack on the affected tooth that can be felt by the tongue, cheek, or lips

Steps You Should Take When You Have a Cracked Tooth with a Root Canal

If your tooth cracks after root canal treatment, don’t panic. You may be able to salvage the tooth. However, even if it needs to be extracted, there are tooth replacement options available.

Make an appointment with your dentist right away

The very first thing you should do if your tooth cracks after root canal treatment is to call your dentist and schedule an appointment. Depending on your symptoms, you may be able to get an emergency appointment. They will be able to evaluate the tooth and determine the best option for treatment.

Avoid hard foods and have a balanced diet

When you have a root canal, you can reduce your risk of cracking the tooth by sticking to a healthy diet. You should also avoid chewing hard/crunchy foods on the side with the treated tooth.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

Proper oral hygiene habits can help keep your teeth healthy and reduce your risk of a cracked tooth. This includes brushing twice daily with a non-abrasive, fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. You should also floss at least once daily, preferably with a water flosser.

Wear a Night Guard or Mouthguard

If you participate in contact sports, consider wearing a mouthguard when playing. You can get an OTC mouthguard, or you can discuss custom mouthguard options with your dentist.

If you are prone to bruxism, discuss nightguard options with your dentist. You can buy a one size fits most or you can discuss custom options with your dentist.

FAQs

 

How long can you stay with a cracked tooth?

If your tooth is cracked, whether it has been treated with root canal therapy or not, it’s important to address it right away. If left untreated, bacteria can get into the cracks and build up inside the tooth and tooth roots, causing significant damage and infection.

Is a tooth fragile after root canal treatment?

Yes, a root canal-treated tooth is more fragile than a natural tooth. However, with proper care and maintenance, it will last a long time.

Can a root canal damage other teeth?

There is a small risk of damage to adjacent teeth during root canal treatment, but this is rare. The best way to reduce this risk is to work with an experienced dentist.

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