The first molar teeth help grind down food to a small size that is safe to swallow. Located near the back of your mouth, the first molars are followed by the second molars and wisdom teeth, if erupted. If your first molar becomes cracked, harmful oral bacteria gains access to the center of your tooth and can create a painful infection that can also threaten the life of the tooth.
There are a few different ways your general dentistry specialist can treat a cracked, infected first molar and have you chewing more comfortably in no time.
Root Canal Therapy
The dentist needs to remove the infected material inside the tooth before sealing the crack, which would trap the infection inside. Infections inflame the pulp material within the root canal. The pulp is a combination of blood and tissue cells that travel up and down the canal keeping the tooth alive.
Pulp infections are treated root canal therapy, which is often abbreviated to just, 'root canal.' The dentist will drill a small access hole on the rear of the first molar then slip a thin dental tool through the hole to scrape out the infected pulp. Once the root canal is clear of the pulp, the dentist will squirt in an antibiotic rinse to kill off any remaining infection.
The dentist will then need to seal both the crack in your first molar and the drill hole used for the root canal therapy. If the crack and hole are near one another but fairly localized to one area of the tooth, the dentist might use a dental filling to plug the holes. A filling consists of a material inserted into the inside of the tooth.
Dental fillings come in several materials but a first molar needs a stronger material to withstand the bite force the tooth takes on while chewing. Silver amalgam is a strong and affordable option. The silver won't match the color of your natural tooth but the first molar is so far back in your mouth that other people aren't going to notice.
Is the crack in your first molar too large to receive a filling? Your dentist can attach a dental crown, which will cover the entire exterior of the tooth and seal shut both the large crack and the drill hole. Dental crowns do come in a metal-backed porcelain option that provides the strength of metal with a more natural looking upper.