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Dr. George McKee
Dr. George McKee, Dentist
Category: Dental
Satisfied Customers: 1396
Experience:  Licensed dentist with 30 years clinical experience in general practice and cosmetic reconstruction.
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Can a cracked tooth be capped? I got a root canal last

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Can a cracked tooth be capped? I got a root canal last Wednesday in molar 3, a third of which had broken away the Friday before. It had 2 or 3 old fillings in it. After doing the root canal, the specialist told me the tooth had several cracks in it and was "basically shattered." This had been the case for a while before the chunck broke away, though I wasn't aware of it. I knew the tooth needed to be capped after the root canal. Fortunately the capping is scheduled for day after tomorrow. I was told to take ibuprophen in the interim, but was not cautioned not to chew on the tooth for fear of further breakage. Fortunately I haven't been chewing on it, and nevertheless it has been getting more and more painful. Biting down at all with that tooth, on very soft food, causes extreme pain. I assume the tooth is splitting up into the root. My question is, can they sterilize the tooth inside the cracks and safely cap it, so that infection doesn't grow from the inside? Thanks much!
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dental
Expert:  Dr. Behere replied 8 years ago.

Thanks for putting up your question on Just Answer.

Yes, a cracked tooth can be sterilized and capped, providing the crack is not too deep and doesn't extend vertically along the length of the tooth.

You have been told not to chew on hard food stuff, as the tooth has been root canaled and thus is weaker than a normal tooth, in this interim period, till a cap is placed.

Hope this answers your question. Feel free to contact me again for more information.

I wish you a speedy recovery !!!

Dr. Behere.

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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I would like a bit more information. From the way the tooth feels, I am almost certain it is vertically cracked and has been getting worse since the root canal. If you look again at my question, you will see that I clearly stated I was NOT told not to chew on the tooth. I figured that out for myself. I was also not told that the tooth was weakened, though that was implied. Now my question is, if a root canal is done in a tooth that is cracking vertically, what can be done next?
Expert:  Dr. George McKee replied 8 years ago.

Dear ,

A root canal only removes the nerve from the tooth and fills the empty space with an inert filler. The cracks on your tooth allowed bacteria to percolate into the nerve space, infecting it and was the reason you needed the root canal. A root canal does nothing to repair a crack. If you are still having pain from biting after a root canal is completed, especially to soft foods, this is not a good sign. There is a good chance that the cracks are so deep that they essentially have separated the remaining tooth into distinct pieces. If your vertical fracture is through and through, as I described, you will lose the tooth. If it is a partial "green stick" fracture, a crown will possibly save the tooth. However, cracks are difficult to diagnose with respect to their severity and extent as most can not be seen.

The only way to know if a crown will rectify the situation is to have you dentist place a temporary crown on the tooth and hold off making the permanent tooth until you are pain free. If you can not get comfortable with a temporary crown, then the permanent one will be no better. Better to take this intermediate step and cross your fingers than to pay for an expensive permanent crown only later to have the tooth removed. I hope this helps.

Dr. George McKee, Dentist
Category: Dental
Satisfied Customers: 1396
Experience: Licensed dentist with 30 years clinical experience in general practice and cosmetic reconstruction.
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