There are many different types of cracked teeth. The treatment and outcome for your tooth depends on the type, location, and severity of the crack. Unlike a broken bone, the fracture in a cracked tooth will never heal and may result in the loss of a tooth if left untreated. Once treated, most cracked teeth continue to function and provide years of comfortable chewing. Talk to your dentist and or endodontist about your particular diagnosis and treatment recommendations. For more information on the types of cracks and possible treatment options, visit the following AAE link below.
(Source: American Assocation of Endodontists – http://www.aae.org)
Cracked teeth demonstrate many types of symptoms, including pain when chewing, temperature sensitivities, or even pain when biting down or releasing biting pressure. 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, and/or allow bacterial entry causing the pulp to become irritated. Eventually, it will become damaged and the 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.
These are tiny cracks that only affect the outer enamel of the tooth. These cracks are more common in adults. These types of cracks are superficial 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. If the pulp has been injured or repair requires post placement, root canal therapy will be necessary. Your dentist will usually restore the tooth with a full crown.
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. Yet, the position and extent of the problem will dictate whether any portion of the tooth can be saved. Sometimes, endodontic retreatment by the doctor and restoration by your dentist can be used to save a portion of the tooth.
A vertical root fracture begins at the root and extends towards the chewing surface of the tooth. This most often happens years after a tooth has been treated with root canal therapy and precludes endodontic retreatment. 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.