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Cracked Tooth (or Fractured Tooth) – A Comprehensive Guide

Cracked Tooth Treatment guide


  Key Takeaways:

  • Cracked teeth are more than just a nuisance; they’re a signal from your mouth that something isn’t right. Whether it’s a minor discomfort or sharp pain, addressing the issue early can save you from further pain and costly treatments. Different types of cracks require different treatments, from simple bonding to more extensive procedures like root canals or crowns. Ignoring a cracked tooth can lead to severe complications, so don’t delay seeking dental care.

  • Prevention is your best defense against cracked teeth. Avoid hard foods, don’t use your teeth as tools, and protect them during sports activities. Regular dental check-ups are crucial for detecting and preventing potential problems. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a cracked tooth, consult with your dentist immediately to discuss the best course of action. Early intervention is key to maintaining a healthy, happy smile.


A cracked tooth (Or fractured tooth) is what happens when a crack appears on your tooth. This isn’t just about looks; it can affect your tooth’s health deep down. Some are tiny, almost invisible, but they can still cause big tooth trouble. Think of your tooth like a tiny crystal vase: once it’s cracked, it’s vulnerable. And just like that vase, your tooth needs care to prevent bigger breaks.

Table of Contents

What is a Cracked Tooth and it's types?

Ever bite down on something and feel a weird, unexpected zing? That might be a cracked tooth talking. It’s more than just a little chip; it’s when a crack runs down from the tooth’s surface. Sometimes it’s visible, sometimes it’s sneaky and hidden.


Types of Cracks – There’s More Than One!

1. Craze Lines: Craze lines are like fine hairlines that only affect the outer enamel. They’re common in adult teeth. Think of them as the wrinkles of the dental world – signs of life’s experiences! While they might affect your smile’s aesthetics, they usually don’t cause pain or require treatment. 

2. Fractured Cusp: Picture the cusp of your tooth – that’s the pointy part you use to chew. Now imagine a piece breaking off. That’s a fractured cusp. It might sound alarming, but it’s usually not a ticket to Pain City. This break typically doesn’t reach the tooth’s pulp (where all the nerves and blood vessels hang out). The result? Less pain and a simpler fix, like a crown or an onlay to replace the broken part and protect the tooth.

3. Cracked Tooth: A cracked tooth means a crack extends from the chewing surface vertically toward the root. Imagine a crack running down the length of a chalk stick – that’s what we’re talking about. If the crack reaches the pulp, it can cause significant pain and make your tooth vulnerable to infection. Treatment urgency ramps up here to prevent the crack from worsening or leading to infection. This might mean a crown or, if the pulp is involved, a root canal.

4. Split Tooth: Think of this as the sequel to a cracked tooth – and not the good kind. A split tooth means the crack has done its worst, splitting the tooth into distinct segments. This can be painful and may cause the tooth to be unsalvageable. A split tooth often results from an untreated cracked tooth and may require extraction. However, part of the tooth could be saved with prompt dental action, depending on the split’s size and location.

5. Vertical Root Fracture: These are the covert operatives of the tooth crack world. Starting at the root and working their way up, vertical root fractures are often silent and symptom-free until they cause an infection or abscess. They’re tricky, often going unnoticed until they reach the surrounding bone and gum. Treatment can be complex, ranging from endodontic surgery to extract the fractured root, to removing the tooth altogether.

4 Common Causes of Cracked Teeth

Understanding the usual suspects can help us steer clear and protect our smiles. From unexpected chomps on hard foods to the grind of daily stress, teeth endure a lot. Let’s break down the four common causes that could lead your tooth to crack under pressure.

  1. Biting Down Hard: Ever chomped on ice or a hard candy? That’s a no-go zone for your teeth. Biting down on hard objects can send shockwaves through your teeth, leading to cracks. It’s not just food; this includes biting nails or using your teeth as tools. Remember, your teeth aren’t nutcrackers or bottle openers!

  2. Accidents and Unexpected Hits: Life throws curveballs, and sometimes that’s a literal hit to the mouth. Sports mishaps, falls, or even a sudden bump can lead to a cracked tooth. Wearing a mouthguard during sports can be a game-changer in protecting those pearly whites.

  3. Temperature Extremes: Hot, cold, hot, cold – it’s a tooth’s nightmare! Sipping on that steaming coffee then chugging an icy drink? Bad news. Teeth don’t like extreme temperature changes; it can cause them to expand and contract, leading to cracks. So, maybe let that coffee cool down a tad, yeah?

  4. Grinding and Clenching: Stressed? Your teeth might be too. Grinding or clenching your teeth puts a ton of pressure on them. This can happen during sleep or in stressful situations. Over time, this pressure can lead to cracks. 


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What are the Sign or Symptoms of a tooth to crack?

Got a tooth acting up? Let’s decode what it’s trying to tell you. A cracked tooth can be a real drama queen, showing off symptoms that grab your attention. But don’t worry, we’re here to translate its signals.

  1. Pain When Chewing: This is your tooth’s way of saying, “Hey, something’s wrong!” If biting down makes you wince, it could be a crack playing hide and seek. The pain might come and go, but don’t ignore it. It’s like your tooth is sending out an SOS.

  2. Sensitivity to Temperature: Ever sip hot coffee or iced tea and feel a zing? That’s not your tooth saying cheers. Temperature sensitivity is a classic sign of a crack. It’s like your tooth is throwing a fit with every sip of hot or cold.

  3. Discomfort Around Gums: If your gums are throwing their own pity party, it could be due to a crack. Gum discomfort near a troubled tooth is like a red flag waving, saying, “Check this out!”

  4. Inconsistency Is Key: Here’s the tricky part: symptoms can be all over the place. One day it’s a pain, the next it’s sensitivity. Cracks can be sly like that. The type and severity of the crack dictate the drama level. Small crack, small fuss. Big crack, big problems.

Understanding these symptoms can be your first step in getting to the bottom of dental distress. Remember, your tooth isn’t just being needy; it’s probably cracked and asking for help in its own toothy way.

How is a cracked tooth diagnosed?

Think of your dentist as a detective and your cracked tooth as the elusive mystery they’re set to unravel. The journey to diagnosis is a blend of art, science, and a bit of dental intuition. Let’s dive deeper into each step:

  1. The Visual Examination: This is where every dental detective story begins. Your dentist uses a keen eye, a bright light, and sometimes magnifying tools to inspect your teeth. They’re looking for visible signs of trouble – not just cracks, but also changes in your gum health or tiny fractures that betray the presence of deeper issues. It’s all about catching those subtle hints that something’s amiss.
  2. Dental Dye: Cracks can be masters of disguise, blending seamlessly with your tooth. Enter dental dye – the equivalent of a detective’s powder dusting for fingerprints. By applying a special dye to your tooth, your dentist can make hidden cracks stand out. It’s like coaxing the tooth to tell its own story, revealing details that were invisible to the naked eye.
  3. Digital X-rays: While cracks can be camera shy, avoiding detection on X-rays, these images are invaluable in the diagnostic process. They offer a behind-the-scenes look at the tooth and surrounding bone. While they might not always show the crack itself, X-rays can indicate if there’s been damage beneath the surface or if other dental issues may be contributing to your symptoms.
  4. The Bite Test: Sometimes the best way to find a crack is to provoke it (gently, of course). During a bite test, you’ll bite down on something soft yet firm. If there’s a crack, this action might cause a brief, sharp pain as the cracked pieces move. It’s a straightforward but effective way to pinpoint the problem area without making the tooth spill its secrets under harsh interrogation.
  5.  Explorer Tool: The dental explorer is a fine, pointed tool that dentists use with precision and care. They’ll gently probe around the suspected crack, feeling for irregularities in the tooth’s surface. This tool can catch on tiny crevices and cracks that eyes and dyes might miss, offering another piece of the puzzle.

Finding a crack isn’t always easy. They’re the hide-and-seek champions of the dental world. But with these tools and tests, your dentist can uncover the mystery and get you on the path to treatment. So, open wide and let the investigation begin!

How do dentists treat a fractured tooth?

When your tooth is cracked, it’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about your overall oral health. Depending on the type and severity of the crack, your treatment could range from a simple fix to a more complex procedure. But don’t worry, each treatment is a step towards preserving your smile. Let’s explore your options:

  • Bonding – A minor crack that’s more annoying than painful. Bonding swoops in as the hero. Your dentist uses a tooth-colored composite resin to fill in the crack, sculpting it to look just like part of your tooth. It’s practically an art project on your tooth – no anesthesia required, and you’re out the door feeling like a million bucks. Bonding is ideal for those small, superficial cracks that don’t mess with the tooth’s structure.
  • Dental Crown When a crack is deep enough to be a threat but not a total tooth-ender, a crown comes into play. This is like custom armor for your tooth, designed to fit perfectly on top. It’s made in a lab to match your other teeth, so nobody will be the wiser. Getting a crown involves prepping the tooth, taking an impression, and then fitting the crown during a follow-up visit. It’s all about giving your tooth a protective hug so that you can chew without a care.
  • Root CanalNow, if the crack has reached the tooth’s inner sanctum – the pulp – it’s time for a root canal. This might sound daunting, but it’s a relief mission for your tooth. The dentist removes the injured pulp, cleans out the tooth, and seals it up to prevent infection. Yes, it’s more involved than a crown or bonding, but it’s a tooth-saver. Plus, modern dentistry has made it as comfortable as possible.
  • Extraction – Here’s the truth: not all cracked teeth can be saved. If the crack extends below the gum line, the tooth might be beyond repair. Extraction is the act of removing the tooth entirely. But don’t view it as an end – it’s a fresh start. Options like dental implants or bridges can fill the gap, ensuring your smile stays bright and functional.
  • Early Treatment – Here’s something all dentists wish patients knew: the sooner you treat a cracked tooth, the better the outcome. Ignoring a crack allows it to worsen, leading to pain, infection, and more complex treatments. Early intervention is key – it can mean the difference between a simple bonding and a root canal or extraction.

Every treatment starts with a conversation. Your dentist will guide you through your options, considering factors like the crack’s location and your overall dental health. It’s not just about fixing a crack; it’s about restoring your tooth’s form and function while preventing future issues.

10 Essential Tips to Prevent Teeth From Cracking

Keeping your teeth intact and free from cracks doesn’t have to be a puzzle. Here’s how you can keep your smile safe, sound, and sparkling:

  1. Say No to Biting Hard Objects:
    Ice cubes, hard candies, and bones are teeth’s worst enemies. Avoid chewing on these hard items to prevent accidental cracks. Your teeth are for eating, not cracking nuts or testing the strength of frozen items.
  2. Teeth are not Tools: 
    Opening packages, ripping tape, or holding nails? Use actual tools, not your teeth. Your teeth are valuable – treat them that way. This simple switch can save you from unexpected breaks.
  3. Use Sport’s Guard While Playing:
    Whether it’s basketball, soccer, or skateboarding, a mouthguard is your best friend. A good mouthguard protects your teeth from impacts and accidents that can lead to cracks or breaks.
  4. End the Nail Biting and Pen Chewing:
    These nervous habits are more than just unseemly; they’re harmful to your teeth. Find stress-relief alternatives like stress balls or fidget spinners to keep your teeth safe from pressure and wear.
  5. Use a Straw for Hot and Cold Beverages:
    Drastic temperature changes can cause tiny cracks in your teeth. Using a straw minimizes direct contact with your teeth, protecting them from temperature-induced stress.
  6. Invest in a Night Guard if You Grind:
    Grinding or clenching your teeth while you sleep can lead to serious tooth damage. A night guard acts as a protective barrier, preventing grinding and reducing the risk of cracks.
  7. Choose Softer Foods When Possible:
    Your diet can impact your dental health. Opt for foods that are kind to your teeth; save the very hard or sticky treats for special occasions. Soft foods mean less stress on your teeth.
  8. Regular Dental Check-Ups Are a Must:
    Routine visits to the dentist help catch and prevent potential problems. Early detection is key to preventing minor issues from becoming major cracks.
  9. Master the Art of Brushing and Flossing:
    Proper oral hygiene removes particles and plaque that can weaken teeth. Brush gently but thoroughly, and floss daily to keep your teeth strong and healthy.
  10. Keep Hydrated for a Healthy Mouth:
    A dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay, which can lead to cracks. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps maintain saliva levels and washes away food particles.


By integrating these ten tips into your daily routine, you’re not just protecting your teeth from cracks; you’re ensuring a healthier, brighter smile for the future. Remember, your oral health is a reflection of your overall health, so take good care of it!


Yes, a cracked tooth can definitely cause pain, especially when chewing or when exposed to temperature extremes. The pain may come and go, but it’s a sign that the inner layers of your tooth might be damaged.

It can be, especially if there’s severe pain or discomfort. If you suspect your tooth is cracked, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible to prevent further damage or infection.

Cracked tooth syndrome refers to a variety of symptoms caused by a crack in a tooth that is too small to show up on X-rays or is hidden under the gum. Symptoms include pain when chewing and temperature sensitivity.

No, a cracked tooth will not heal on its own. Dental intervention is necessary to prevent worsening of the crack and to protect the tooth from infection or further damage.

Ignoring a cracked tooth can lead to more serious problems, such as infection, severe pain, and tooth loss. The longer you wait, the more complicated and costly the treatment can become.

The time it takes to fix a cracked tooth varies depending on the severity and type of crack, as well as the treatment chosen. Simple bonding might be completed in one visit, while a crown or root canal may require two or more appointments.

You should avoid chewing on the side of the cracked tooth to prevent further damage. Stick to softer foods and avoid extremes in temperature until you can see a dentist.

The cost depends on the extent of the damage and the required treatment. Simple procedures like bonding may be relatively inexpensive, while crowns, root canals, or extractions will cost more. Dental insurance may cover some of the costs.


Ignoring the signs can lead to bigger, more painful problems down the line. But with the right care and precautions, you can keep your smile strong and intact. Remember, at the first sign of discomfort or damage, it’s important to consult with a dental professional.


Ready to Explore Your Options?

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of a cracked tooth or if it’s just time for your regular check-up, Thomas Dentistry is here to help. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to providing the best dental care in a comfortable and welcoming environment. Don’t let dental anxiety or uncertainty hold you back from addressing your dental health needs.

Contact Thomas Dentistry to learn more about our dental services and how we can help you on your journey to a brighter, more confident smile. Schedule a consultation with us, and let’s explore the possibilities together. 


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