Cracked Teeth

Cracked teeth demonstrate many types of symptoms, including pain when chewing, temperature sensitivities, or even pain when releasing from biting.  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 (nerve and other soft tissues) within the tooth becomes irritated. At the same time, when you release biting pressure, a crack that is present can close quickly, resulting in sharp pain. Eventually, the pulp will become damaged and the tooth will consistently hurt, even when you are not chewing. It is possible that cracks can lead to infection of the pulp tissue, which can spread to the bone and gums surrounding the problematic tooth.  Cracks can result in the need for an extraction.

Types of Cracks

Craze lines

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


Fractured Cusp

When a cusp becomes weakened, a fracture may result. The cusp may break off or need to be removed by a dentist. Sometimes, the fracture does not involve the pulp, so a root canal may or may not be necessary if a cusp fracture occurs. Your dentist will usually restore the tooth with a full crown.


Cracked Tooth

This type of crack extends from the chewing surface of the tooth and vertically migrates towards the root. In some cases, the crack may extend below the gumline and may extend deeper into the center of the root.  Damage to the pulp is commonplace. 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

A split tooth is usually the result of an untreated cracked tooth. It can be identified by a crack with distinct segments. This type of tooth can never be saved intact. Yet, the position and extent of the problem will dictate whether any portion of the tooth can be saved. Sometimes, endodontic retreatment by the doctor and restoration by your restorative dentist can be used to save a portion of the tooth.


Vertical Root Fracture

A vertical root fracture begins at the tip of the root and extends towards the chewing surface of the tooth. Unfortunately, they show minimal symptoms and may go unnoticed. If it appears that the tooth can be saved by removal of a fracture on a root or roots, treatment would involve a combination of conventional root canal therapy (if not already present) and endodontic surgery.  Otherwise, it would be necessary to extract the tooth.