Cracked Teeth

Cracked tooth syndrome relates to a variety of symptoms and signs caused by a crack in a tooth. Most cracked teeth can be saved. To improve the chances of saving a cracked tooth, early diagnosis and treatment is important.cracked-tooth-4

Symptoms and Signs of a Cracked Tooth

  • Sharp and erratic pain upon chewing or after release of biting pressure
  • Pain or discomfort when the crack is exposed to cold, hot or sweet food or liquids
  • Difficulty in pinpointing which tooth hurts or whether the pain is coming from as in a top or bottom tooth
  • The crack may not be visible to the eye or detectable on a dental x-ray

Causes of Cracked Tooth Syndrome

  • Large fillings that may weaken the teeth and make them prone to fracture
  • Clenching or grinding of teeth
  • Daily wear and tear from clenching, grinding and chewing can slowly cause cracks
  • Chewing on hard foods or substances
  • Trauma


Diagnosis can be difficult because symptoms are not consistent. Examination of cracked cracked-thteeth may involve bite tests, probing of the gums, x-rays, removal of a filling and transillumination (using a special light to check for cracks). 

Treatment for a Cracked Tooth

Early treatment is important. Propagating cracks may be stopped or slowed down, increasing the chances that the tooth can be saved.

Simple Crack: The treatment for most cracked teeth involves removing the weakened part of the tooth and placing a large filling or crown on the tooth. The crown protects the tooth and often prevents the crack from progressing.

Complex Crack: If the crack has progressed to the pulp or has caused inflammation of the pulp, root canal treatment may be needed before the crown or filling is put into place.

Untreated Cracked Teeth

The longer a simple cracked tooth is left untreated, the more likely it will become a cracked-tooth-3complex crack. The pulp inside the tooth may die, and infection in the tooth may occur. It will then be necessary to perform root canal treatment or in some cases, extract the tooth.

In severe cases the tooth may split in half. In this case the tooth usually has to be extracted. A bridge, denture or dental implant may then be needed.

All invasive or surgical procedures carry risk. Please discuss the benefits and risks of procedures with your dentist before proceeding with treatment. They will be pleased to answer any questions or concerns you may have about any aspect of diagnosis or treatment.

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