Explaining Cracked Teeth

Cracked Tooth Syndrome

Cracked Tooth Syndrome can be described as Dental Pain that originates from a Hairline or Incomplete Fracture of a Tooth. Pain is usually associated with Biting or Chewing on the affected tooth.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth can be:

  • Pain when eating hard or chewy foods. Sometimes you may notice pain if you bite in a certain spot on a tooth. Soft foods that do not require heavy biting forces often do not trigger a painful response.
  • Sudden Sharp Pain upon releasing pressure on the affected tooth.
  • Sudden increase in temperature sensitivity.

What Causes a Cracked Tooth?

There are multiple risk factors for Cracked Teeth. Some of these factors are:

  • Parafunctional Habits such as Grinding or Clenching your teeth at night.
  • Habitual Chewing or Crunching Ice with your teeth.
  • Teeth that already have very large restorations or black metal fillings.
  • Accidental Trauma
  • Inadvertently biting on something hard such as an olive pit or a bone.

Should I be Proactive and Treat the Crack?

Left Untreated, there is a Potential for the Incomplete Fracture to turn into a Complete Fracture involving a larger portion of the tooth. The Severity of the Fracture often determines the treatment options for the tooth. In most cases, a Crown or Porcelain Onlay is indicated to prevent further breaking of the tooth.

What can Happen if I don't fix the Crack?

Ultimately, there is no way to tell if or when a tooth is going to crack. That is mainly influenced by individual patient factors and habits.  But more importantly, there is no way to tell how badly the Tooth is going to crack. Severe fractures can travel deep enough into the tooth to reach the nerve chamber; which is what happened to the tooth in the above picture. You can see the crack that began near the biting surface of the tooth has traveled down into the pulp chamber. As a result, a Root Canal needed to be performed.

Catastrophic Failure

This is the worst possible outcome for the patient because the only remaining treatment option is extraction of the broken tooth, and costly replacement with an Implant Borne Restoration or Conventional Fixed Bridge. What is interesting to note in the picture above is that the tooth that broke was a completely healthy, unrestored natural tooth. This shows that Cracked Tooth Syndrome can affect any tooth; even healthy, unrestored ones.