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Ouch! Why am I Wincing?

Man with Tooth PainA sudden, sharp pain when you bite—that’s seemingly out of nowhere?

Most likely, it’s a cracked tooth.

Even a hairline fracture in a cavity-free molar can make the most hardy of us sit up and take notice. When you’re visited by this kind of bite-down pain, get to the dentist quick.

Most cracks are superficial, affecting only part of the crown, but others are more significant and traverse the tooth deeply enough to expose root structure. The simpler “and more common” fractures that affect only enamel are easily treated with an onlay or crown. The deeper ones threaten the vitality of the tooth and require a rapid and more complicated response. And your pain can’t tell the difference.

Neither youth nor maturity put us out of harm’s way for a fracture. But a good dose of common sense can help with prevention. For instance, wear a mouthguard when you’re engaged in sports (most fractures occur as a result of some kind of rough-and-tumble accident); don’t bite through thread or clothing tags, or chew on pencils or ice; and pay attention when you’re eating olives and fruits with pits.

And if you’re already wincing, don’t wait—reach for the phone.

About R. Shawn Kelly, DDS

Dr. Kelly has been in private practice in the Sacramento area since 1981. Dr. Kelly received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from The University of Arizona and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. Dr. Kelly is competent in all aspects of general dentistry including sedation for fearful patients and reconstructive dentistry. By drawing upon his many years of experience in the profession, Dr. Kelly is able to give his patients a thorough assessment of their needs and thoughtful explanation of his findings. He and his staff strive to communicate in easily understandable terms all the while trying to help every patient feel comfortable with their treatment decisions.

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