Cracked teeth demonstrate many types of symptoms, including pain when chewing, temperature sensitivity, or even referred pain to another area of your mouth. The actual cracks are hardly ever visible on x-rays, although evidence of their presence may be seen. 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 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 gum surrounding the problematic tooth.
Types of Cracks
These are tiny cracks that only affect the outer enamel of the tooth. These types of
cracks are more common in adults. They are superficial and usually are no cause for
When a cusp becomes weakened, a fracture may result. The cusp may break off or be removed by a dentist. A fractured cusp may not damage the pulp, so a root canal would not be necessary. Your dentist will usually restore the tooth with a full crown. If the pulp was damaged by the fracture, then root canal treatment would be indicated before the crown was placed.
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 gum line. It is possible for the crack to extend further into the root. Damage to the pulp is commonplace. In this case, root canal treatment is often necessary. A cracked tooth that is not restored will worsen, and can eventually result in the loss of the tooth. Therefore, early detection and treatment is essential.
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 treatment and subsequent restoration can be used to save a portion of the tooth.
Vertical Root Fracture
A vertical root fracture frequently begins at the root and extends towards the chewing surface of the tooth. Unfortunately, they show minimal symptoms at first and may go unnoticed for some time. Treatment involves endodontic therapy and sometimes surgery, if a portion of the tooth can be saved by removal of the fractured root. Otherwise the tooth would have to be extracted.