Cracked Teeth

Cracked Teeth Diagnosis & Treatment Information

The Basics:

When a tooth develops a crack, it can often be very painful—especially when biting or chewing. It is important to have your tooth evaluated right away if you suspect it may be cracked. Finding a crack early in its progression can increase the chances of you being able to hold on to your natural tooth. Endodontists are experts at evaluating and treating cracks in teeth. They can provide you with information on how best to manage the crack and whether Root Canal Therapy is necessary.

The Details:

Cracks can form in our teeth as part of the aging process. The formation of cracks is accelerated by our habits (pen biting, chewing ice) and by things we may be doing involuntarily (grinding and clenching either during the day or while we sleep).

Cracks start superficially and progress deeper into the tooth with time. As cracks progress deeper, the pulp/nerve of the tooth can become irritated. Symptoms can involve temperature sensitivity, pain on biting/chewing, or pain on release from biting. Most commonly, a patient with a cracked tooth experiences discomfort when chewing. The act of chewing opens the crack on a microscopic level and causes the nerve of the tooth to become irritated.

The Good News:

If a crack in a tooth is identified early, the tooth may be saved with a new crown or cap. In some cases, this treatment is sufficient to stop the progression of the crack and no root canal therapy is needed. As the crack progresses closer to the nerve of the tooth, however, the need for root canal therapy becomes more likely. Eventually, if a crack extends too far before being caught, the tooth may not be salvageable and may need to be removed.

Endodontists are experts at diagnosing and managing cracks in teeth. If a crack is identified, your endodontist will be able to provide you with information on how best to manage the crack progression and whether Root Canal Therapy is necessary.

Helpful Video on Cracked Teeth from the American Association of Endodontists

Dealing With Cracked Teeth

Are you experiencing the symptoms of a cracked tooth? Learn how the endodontists at Miami Root Canal Specialists evaluate for cracks in teeth and help their patients avoid tooth extraction.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Cracked Teeth

My tooth hurts when I bite. Does that mean it’s cracked?

It is true that cracked teeth are often sensitive when biting or when releasing from biting. However, there are many other reasons why you could be experiencing biting sensitivity. Other causes of biting sensitivity include teeth with high fillings/crowns, teeth that are infected, and teeth that have been injured. In some cases, your biting sensitivity may not be related to a tooth at all and could instead be related to a problem with your jaw joints (TMJ). An important part of your evaluation will be to determine the true cause of your biting sensitivity and to rule out the existence of cracks in your tooth.

Do all cracked teeth need root canal treatment?

No. Depending on the extent of the crack and the level of irritation in the pulp, your tooth may not require root canal treatment. If this is the case, we may recommend that the tooth be restored by your general dentist with a crown. In many cases, pain on chewing can be eliminated with this treatment alone and root canal treatment is not needed.

What happens if I don’t have my cracked tooth addressed?

Cracks tend to worsen with time. As the crack deepens,  it can lead to a worsening of symptoms in the tooth or can cause the pulp of the tooth to become necrotic/infected. If a crack extends too far before being caught, the tooth may not be salvageable and may need to be removed.

Is there any way to prevent cracked teeth?

Some patients are more prone to developing cracks in their teeth than others. This is especially true of patients who have a history of clenching or grinding their teeth or have a habit of chewing hard objects (ice, hard candy, etc). If your are at higher risk of developing cracks in your teeth, you may want to consider having a custom guard fabricated by your general dentist to protect your teeth against excessive forces while you sleep.

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