Cracks can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms include temperature sensitivity, pain when chewing, or pain when biting pressure is released. Often the pain comes and goes. When chewing causes the cracked pieces of a tooth to move, the pulp can become irritated and damaged which can lead to infection of the pulp tissue. This infection can spread to the gum and bone surrounding the tooth.
It isn’t always possible to identify why or how a tooth cracks. There are some habits that make our teeth more prone to cracking such as grinding, clenching, and chewing hard objects.
Early diagnosis is very important. The earlier a crack is detected and treated the better the chance of saving the tooth. A cracked or fractured tooth is unlike a broken bone because it cannot heal. If a cracked tooth is left untreated it will deteriorate and may require more invasive procedures.
Types of cracks:
Craze lines: These are very small cracks that affect only the outer enamel of teeth. They are common in adults, are superficial and usually of no concern.
Fractured cusp: When a cusp becomes weak a fracture may occur. It may break off or your dentist will remove it. Usually a fractured cusp will not damage the pulp so a root canal is not necessary. Your dentist can restore the tooth with a crown.
Vertical root fracture: These extend from the roots to the chewing surface of a tooth. They often have minimal symptoms and go unnoticed. Sometimes they are not found until the surrounding gum and bone become infected. Surgery can save the tooth if the fractured root can be removed. Otherwise the tooth will need to be extracted.
Cracked tooth: These extend from the chewing surface toward the root. The crack may extend below the gum line or further into the root. Damage to the pulp is common which requires root canal treatment.
Split tooth: This is usually the result of an untreated cracked tooth. It is identified by a crack with individual segments and usually cannot be saved intact. The extent and position of the crack will determine whether any part of the tooth can be saved.
In most cases, cracked teeth can be treated and continue to function properly and comfortably.
If you have any questions or concerns about cracked teeth, please call or contact our office.