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Cracked Teeth

All dentists are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of cracked teeth.  Some cracked teeth, however, can be especially difficult to diagnose, and treatment may involve root canal therapy.

To understand why a cracked tooth hurts, it helps to know something about the anatomy of the tooth.  Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is the inner soft tissue called the pulp.  The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue.

When the outer hard tissues of the tooth are cracked, chewing can cause movement of the pieces, and the pulp can become irritated. When biting pressure is released, the crack can close quickly, resulting in a momentary sharp pain.  Irritation of the dental pulp can be repeated many times by chewing.  Eventually, the pulp will become damaged to the point that it can no longer heal itself.  The tooth will not only hurt when chewing but may also become sensitive to temperature extremes.  In time, a cracked tooth may begin to hurt all by itself.  Extensive cracks will lead to infection of the pulp tissue, which can spread to the bone and gum tissue surrounding the tooth.

Types of Cracks:

  •   Craze Lines
  •   Fractured Cusp
  •   Cracked Tooth
  •   Split Tooth
  •   Vertical Root Fracture

Unlike a broken bone, the fracture in a cracked tooth will never heal.  In spite of treatment, some cracks may continue to progress and separate, resulting in loss of the tooth.  The treatment you receive for your cracked tooth is important because it will relieve pain and reduce the likelihood that the crack will worsen.  Once treated, most cracked teeth continue to function and provide years of comfortable chewing.

Early diagnosis is extremely important.  Like cracks in a windshield, cracks in teeth often start small and progress slowly.  Even with high magnification, it is sometimes very difficult to determine the extent of a crack. A cracked tooth that is not treated will progressively worsen and deteriorate, eventually resulting in the loss of the tooth.   Our special training and experience can be valuable when a cracked tooth is suspected and is essential in saving these teeth.