Teeth are remarkably strong, but they can chip, crack (fracture) or break, which can cause nerve damage and any associated discomfort. Based on what caused the cracked tooth, a filling or crown may have become dislodged or lost completely.
Cracked tooth syndrome occurs when a tooth has a crack that’s too small to show up on X-rays, or is under the gum and challenging to identify. It appears most often on molars.
Cracked tooth syndrome symptoms can be pain or discomfort when biting into food, or when teeth are exposed to hot or cold temperatures. The pain or discomfort won’t be constant, as with a cavity.
Some common causes of cracked tooth syndrome include:
Grinding or clenching teeth
The way teeth come together it can put too much pressure on one tooth
Teeth with large fillings
Teeth that have undergone root canal treatment
Many people with cracked tooth syndrome have symptoms for months because it’s one of the most difficult dental problems to diagnose. A complete oral examination, dental history, radiographs and the use of a fiber optic hand piece can assist in the detection of cracks. People with a history of a cracked tooth are more likely to have others, either at the same time or in the future.
There are several treatments options including bonding, placing a crown, performing a root canal or in severe cases extraction. If the crack gets bigger, a piece of the tooth may break off. There’s an increased risk of developing an infection in the gum around the fractured tooth. You may notice a pimple-like bump on the gum near the tooth, an abscess. If you notice this, please see your dentist for an oral evaluation.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
Brian Y. Kuo DDS FAGD