Cracked Teeth

Symptoms & Causes of Cracked Teeth

Cracked teeth demonstrate many types of symptoms, including pain when chewing, temperature sensitivities, or even the release of biting pressure. It is also common for pain to come and go, making it difficult to diagnose the cause of discomfort.

Chewing can cause movement of the cracked pieces of your tooth, and the pulp within the tooth becomes irritated. At the same time, when biting pressure is released, the crack can close quickly, resulting in sharp pain. Eventually, the pulp will become damaged and the tooth will hurt consistently, even when not chewing. Cracks can lead to infection of the pulp tissue, which can spread to the bone and gum surrounding the problematic tooth.

Types of Cracks

Craze lines

These are tiny cracks that only affect the outer enamel of the tooth. They are more common in adults, and are superficial and usually of no concern.

Fractured Cusp

graphic showing fractured cusp tooth crackWhen a cusp becomes weakened, a fracture may result. The cusp may break off or be removed by a dentist, which rarely damages the pulp, therefore, a root canal will not be necessary. Your dentist will usually restore the tooth with a full crown.

Cracked Tooth

graphic showing cracked toothThis type of crack extends from the chewing surface of the tooth and vertically migrates towards the root. Damage to the pulp is commonplace, and in this case root canal treatment is usually necessary. A cracked tooth that is not treated will worsen resulting in the loss of the tooth, therefore, early detection is essential.

Split Tooth

graphic showing split toothA split tooth is usually the result of an untreated cracked tooth that can be identified by distinct segments. This type of tooth can never be saved intact, however, the position and extent of the problem will dictate whether any portion of the tooth can be saved. Sometimes, endodontic retreatment by the endodontist and restoration by your dentist can be used to save a portion of the tooth.

Vertical Root Fracture

graphic showing vertical root fractureA vertical root fracture begins at the root and extends towards the chewing surface of the tooth. Unfortunately, they show minimal symptoms and may go unnoticed. Treatment involves endodontic surgery if a portion of the tooth can be saved by removal of the fractured root, otherwise the tooth will have to be extracted.