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My wife has a painful tooth with fractured enamel. We are wondering if a tooth has the ability to grow stronger, since it is 'alive' like other parts of the body and what we could do to help the tooth do so.

The sensitivity your wife is feeling may or may not be related to the enamel fractures. Often, the only way we are able to diagnose a fracture is through interpreting a tooth's response to temperature and touch. If a sharp pain is felt with temperature, and the pain rapidly diminishes with removal of the stimulus, then a fracture is more likely. Sensitivity to temperature may also be due to other factors such as root recession, and can often be treated with a desensitizing sealant by your dentist. If the temperature sensitivity is indeed due to a fracture, it will probably not improve and will eventually need to be treated (ie- crown). In answer to your other question, teeth do have a limited ability to heal themselves. When the nerve of a tooth is irritated, it may sometimes shrink away and the tooth may form a layer of protective Dentin to insulate it from further stress. Unfortunately, fractured teeth do not heal themselves like other bones in your body.


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Last revised: December 06, 2004.