Your tooth may be cracked, and you may not even know it! Cracked and fractured teeth exhibit a variety of symptoms that can come and go, and cracks/fractures do not always show up on x-rays. If your tooth is cracked/fractured, you might feel occasional pain when chewing, particularly between bites as you release the pressure on your teeth. If you are experiencing these dental symptoms or suspect a cracked tooth, your regular dentist may not know how to save your tooth. As a board-certified endodontist, Dr. Kanter has specific training in diagnosing and saving a cracked tooth. Once treated, most cracked teeth continue to function and provide years of comfortable chewing.
How will my cracked/fractured tooth be treated?
The treatment of your cracked tooth depends on the type, location, and severity of the crack. Cracks and fractures usually start on the surface and work their way into the tooth toward the end of the root. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential in saving your teeth. A cracked tooth that is not treated will progressively worsen, eventually resulting in the loss of the tooth.
- Craze lines are tiny, shallow cracks that affect only the outer enamel. These cracks are extremely common in adult teeth. Craze lines cause no pain, and are of no concern beyond appearances.
- A fractured cusp is when a piece of your tooth’s chewing surface breaks off. A fractured cusp can often lead to pain, especially when eating. Dr. Kanter uses biomimetic techniques to restore these defects and get the tooth back in chewing condition. In certain cases, a crown may be required to completely protect the tooth from further damage.
- A cracked tooth means the crack extends from the chewing surface of your tooth vertically toward the root. The crack may gradually spread. Early diagnosis is important in order to save the tooth. If the crack has extended into the pulp, the tooth can be treated with a root canal procedure and a crown to protect the crack from spreading. If the crack extends below the gum line, the tooth cannot be saved and will need to be extracted. That’s why early treatment is so important.
- A split tooth is often the result of the long-term progression of a cracked tooth, and means that the tooth has split into distinct segments that can be separated. A split tooth cannot be saved intact. The position and extent of the crack, however, will determine whether any portion of the tooth can be saved. In some cases, endodontic treatment may be performed to save a portion of the tooth.
- A vertical root fracture begins in the root of the tooth and extends toward the chewing surface. These may go unnoticed until surrounding bone and gum tissue become infected. Treatment may involve extraction of the tooth. However, endodontic surgery is sometimes appropriate if a tooth can be saved by removal of the fractured portion.
- Cracking the Cracked Tooth Code, American Association of Endodontists