Direct high-velocity trauma to the mouth or the face is likely to cause an enamel infraction, which is when the enamel of your tooth gets cracked. This is considered to be a traumatic dental injury and requires attention although it is not urgent. In particular, your maxillary central incisors, which are your two front teeth, are most susceptible to enamel infractions. If you notice that an accident has resulted in cracked enamel, here's what you need to know.
Diagnosing Enamel Infractions
An enamel infraction means that the enamel is partially cracked. You should see prominent and visible fracture lines on the surface of the affected tooth. An enamel infraction signifies that the tooth structure is preserved, and the underlying pulp and dentin is not damaged.
As a result, the affected tooth should pass the percussion test, mobility test, and sensibility pulp test. This means that the affected tooth should not be tender to the touch. If the tooth is tender, then you are probably dealing with a luxation injury and not just a mere enamel infraction. A luxation is when the tooth has been forced out of its intended position, and the underlying periodontal ligaments have been damaged. Back to enamel infractions, the affected tooth should have normal mobility and should have a positive sensibility pulp test, which basically means that the underlying pulp is not at risk of going through necrosis.
Your dentist may also recommend that you get a radiograph of the affected tooth depending on how you respond to the sensibility pulp test. Only a periapical view is needed for a proper diagnosis. Last but not least, your dentist may check to see whether the affected tooth has become sensitive to fluctuating temperatures and pressure.
You can expect some inflammation or local hemorrhaging; however, these symptoms generally disappear within several days, if not hours. As a rule of thumb, enamel infractions typically do not result in any persisting discomfort or pain. Speak with your dentist or look at sites like http://familydentalcentertn.com/ if any symptoms persist, as the injury may be much more than just an enamel infraction.
Looking at Recommended Treatments for Enamel Infractions
Depending on the amount and depth of the fracture lines involved, an enamel infraction may not need any treatment, although your dentist will need to periodically inspect and examine the fracture to make sure that it has not worsened. However, if there are several infraction lines or if the infraction line is moderately deep, your dentist may recommend sealing the cracks. Sealing the cracks will also prevent possible bacterial invasions that may result in an infection. It will also prevent discoloration at the infraction lines.
Generally speaking, composite resin will be strong enough for sealing the cracks. Your dentist may have to customize the color of the composite resin for it to match your teeth color. In severe situations, a complete restoration may be recommended or veneers may be applied overtop the fractured areas after they have been sealed to further strengthen the affected tooth.
No follow-up treatments or appointments are typically needed once the cracks are sealed, and you can generally continue consuming a normal diet. There is no need to only eat soft foods. The prognosis for enamel infractions is quite good. You can expect the tooth to completely recover, and you won't have to worry about any additional side effects emerging in the future.
Although enamel infractions are generally not considered to be severe, you should still consider seeing a dentist as soon as possible in order to determine whether the underlying pulp and dentin are affected. If the underlying structures are affected and the structural composition of the tooth is compromised, additional treatments will be required to prevent the pulp and the periodontal ligaments from becoming necrotic. If these tissues become necrotic, the prognosis becomes poor quite quickly.