Dental abfractions are essentially small stress cracks that can appear in a tooth's surface. The abfractions can come from mild trauma or the normal bite pressure of chewing. Cracks tend to appear at the bottom of the tooth near the gums where the protective enamel layer is the thinnest.
A slight abfraction often doesn't require dental treatment. But abfractions that have start to spread or deepen should be treated to prevent a larger crack from forming.
Here are a few of the potential dental treatments for abfraction lesions.
Abfraction lesions that remain on the surface of the tooth can often be filled in using a filling material. Composite resin can closely match the natural color of a tooth and is strong enough to help prevent the crack from spreading.
For the filling, your dentist will paint the resin into the crack and then harden the substance with a special light.
Fillings work best on abfraction lesions that are near the bottom to middle of the tooth as those regions don't suffer any bite pressure. If you have small cracks at the top of your tooth, your dentist might want to use silver amalgam for a stronger filling or a different covering method.
A dental crown is a tooth-colored, custom-fit cap for your tooth. Surface cracks on teeth that take a lot of bite pressure such as the molars need more protection than fillings can provide. A dental crown can provide that protection.
Porcelain crowns backed by a metal base can provide a natural look for the tooth without compromising the strength of the crown. However, the metal is visible at the very bottom of the crown so if the crown will only cover part of your tooth, that line might be noticeable to others. But if it's a rear tooth, it's unlikely that someone else will see the line.
Root Canal and Crown
Abfraction lesions that spread and deepen can turn into actual tooth cracks. These cracks can expose the interior of the tooth, which contains a root canal filled with delicate pulp material. Exposed pulp can cause temperature sensitivity, pain, and infection.
To fix the opening, your dentist might suggest a combination of a root canal and a crown. The root canal procedure involves accessing the canal through the top of the tooth, cleaning out any damaged pulp, filling the canal with a biomedical cement, and then using the crown to both close the tooth and to cover any remaining abfraction lesions on the surface. For more information, contact a professional like Tony Parsley, DMD.