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(Fractured Tooth; Cracked Tooth)
- Craze lines—shallow cracks that cause no pain and require no treatment
- Fractured cusp—breaks in the chewing surface of the tooth
- Cracked tooth—the tooth cracks from the chewing surface down toward the root of the tooth
- Split tooth—cracks down through the root, separating a section of tooth
- Vertical root fracture—cracks begin in the root and move up toward chewing surface
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- Increased age—teeth wear down as we age
- Teeth with current tooth decay or damage
- Teeth that have been restored with silver alloy
- Chewing on hard foods like hard candy or ice
- Collision sports like hockey and football
- Teeth grinding and jaw clenching
- Pain with chewing
- Chewing only on one side of your mouth to avoid discomfort
- Sharp pain when you bite down
- Pain with cold air or food
- Random pain
- Do you remember biting down hard on something?
- When do you notice pain?
- What types of food cause pain?
- Dye staining—a solution is put on the tooth to help see the crack
- Transillumination—passing a light through the tooth
- Periodontal probing—using special tools to look for the extent of crack
- Bite test—you will be asked to bite down on a stick to find the specific tooth causing problems
- X-ray—to look for certain defects, since not all fractures can be seen on x-ray
- Crown—a cap is placed over the tooth. A temporary crown will be placed at first to make sure it corrects the problem. A permanent crown will eventually be placed.
- Dental Veneer—a thin covering that is placed over the front of the tooth if you have small chip in the surface
- Root canal—may be needed if there is severe damage to the pulp. A root canal clears out the damaged pulp and places a new filler in the tooth.
- Tooth extraction—the tooth may need to be removed if the crack extends below the gum line.
- Avoid chewing on hard objects such as ice, hard candy, popcorn kernels, or pens
- Wear a mouth guard for sports or recreational activities
- Don’t use your teeth to cut things or open plastic bags
- Avoid clenching or grinding your teeth
- Talk to your dentist if you grind your teeth at night
American Association of Endodontists http://www.aae.org
American Dental Association—Mouth Healthy http://www.mouthhealthy.org
Canadian Dental Association http://www.cda-adc.ca
Health Canada http://hc-sc.gc.ca
Cracked tooth syndrome. MIT dental service website. Available at: http://medweb.mit.edu/pdf/crackedtooth.pdf . Accessed April 10, 2013.
Cracked teeth. American Association of Endodontists website. Available at: http://www.aae.org/Patients/Cracked%5FTeeth.aspx?terms=cracked%20teeth . Accessed April 10, 2013.
Dental Emergencies. American Dental Association—Mouth Healthy website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/dental-care-concerns/dental-emergencies.aspx . Accessed April 10, 2013.
Diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of cracked teeth. Iowa dental association website. Available at: http://www.iowadental.org/Justman%20Cracked%20Tooth%20handout.pdf . Updated May 6, 2011. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Do you have a cracked tooth? American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.ada.org/sections/publicResources/pdfs/patient%5F25.pdf . Published April 2003. Accessed April 10, 2013.
Salvi V. Cracked tooth syndrome. Available at: http://www.dentaltreatment.org/cracked%5Ftooth%5Fsyndrom.pdf . Accessed April 10, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 03/18/2013