Cracked teeth demonstrate many types of symptoms, including pain when chewing, temperature sensitivities, or pain on the release of biting pressure. Most cracks are microscopic and can not be detected with the naked eye. 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, allowing bacteria to enter the 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 and are more common in adults. These types of cracks are superficial, do not cause any pain and are usually of no concern.
When a cusp becomes weakened, a fracture may result. The cusp may break off or be removed by a dentist. A fractured cusp rarely damages the pulp, so root canal is not necessary. Your dentist will usually restore the tooth with a filling or if a significant amount of tooth structure has been lost, a crown may be necessary.
Treatable Cracked Tooth
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 usually necessary. A cracked tooth that is not treated will worsen, resulting in the loss of the tooth therefore early detection 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. The position and extent of the problem will dictate whether any portion of the tooth can be saved. Sometimes endodontic retreatment by the endodontist and restoration by your dentist can be used to save a portion of the tooth.
Vertical Root Fracture
A vertical root fracture begins at the root and extends towards the chewing surface of the tooth. Unfortunately, they show minimal symptoms and may go unnoticed. Treatment involves endodontic surgery if a portion of the tooth can be saved by removal of the fractured root, otherwise the tooth will have to be extracted.