Cracked tooth syndrome is, as the name suggests, a condition that is caused by a variety of reasons whereby a fracture, or crack, in the tooth leads to various symptoms requiring dental treatment.

Fractured teeth are one of the main causes of tooth extraction in adults and is usually detected by a short, sharp pain or discomfort when biting into food, rather than constant pain. X-rays can’t always detect fractures as often they are hairline cracks, or even under the gum, so they can be difficult, if not impossible, to detect.

Causes of cracked tooth:

  • Biting on down on a hard object such as some seeds or stones in fruit
  • Accident or trauma
  • Grinding or clenching
  • Large fillings which weaken the tooth structure
  • Root canal treated teeth
  • Uneven bite causing pressure on one tooth causing the tooth to fracture

Pain can be intermittent and hard to localise. It can be very sensitive to hot or cold food or drinks or even exposure to air. Pain can also increase when you chew or bite down on the tooth and you may detect a rough or sharp edge with your tongue. Early intervention is important as there is a better opportunity for saving the tooth. Left untreated, the bigger chance it has of becoming a more complex crack where the nerve inside the tooth may die and infection set in. If this happens root canal therapy or extraction may be necessary.

Treatment for a cracked tooth depends on the extent and position of the crack. A simple crack may require a filling. If more than one cusp is fractured or the tooth is heavily restored already, a crown is likely to be the required treatment. The crown is a cap that protects the tooth and prevents the crack from getting worse. If the crack has progressed to the tooth nerve and caused inflammation there, however, root canal therapy may be required. After completion of root canal therapy, a crown or filling will be required to protect this weakened tooth.

If you experience symptoms of a cracked tooth and suspect this is the problem, do not delay and book in to see the dentist immediately. Prompt action can often mean avoiding more serious, and more expensive, treatment further down the track.