You bite into a piping hot piece of pizza or go to munch on an ice cube and POW!—you’re hit with a sharp pain in your tooth. This is just one of several cracked tooth symptoms, and a sure sign that it’s time to book an appointment at your endodontist. But what is cracked tooth syndrome and how do you fix it? Is a cracked tooth the same as a chipped tooth?
No matter what kind of cracked tooth you have or which tooth is afflicted, your symptoms will be pretty similar. The biggest indication is extreme pain when chewing or applying pressure to the trouble tooth. The tooth may also suffer from extreme sensitivity to heat or cold, making eating and drinking difficult. Symptoms are often intermittent, which can make it tough for the endodontist to pinpoint the problem area. It is also possible to experience no symptoms at all.
While the name is pretty straightforward, there are several different types of cracked teeth, and the treatment varies for each. Here’s a basic breakdown:
Definition: faint lines that are actually cracks or “micro fractures” in the surface of the enamel only
Treatment: none—craze lines cause no pain or discomfort, so they are mainly a cosmetic issue
Definition: when a piece of the chewing surface, often near a filling, breaks off completely
Treatment: fixed by putting a new filling or crown over the damaged tooth with monitoring to make sure the crack doesn’t reappear
Definition: a chip or nick where a piece of the tooth is missing
Treatment: small chips can be polished or smoothed out; large chips may need a filling, cap, or crown
Definition: a crack that extends vertically down from the crown to the root, also known as an “incomplete fracture”
Treatment: if the crack doesn’t pass the gum line, it can be saved with a filling or a crown; if the crack does pass the gum line, a root canal or extraction may be necessary
Definition: a segmented crack also known as a “complete fracture” that can be separated into distinct pieces, typically resulting from an untreated cracked tooth
Treatment: fixed by putting new filling or crown over the damaged tooth
Definition: a crack that extends vertically up from the root toward the crown
Treatment: these cracks may not be solved with a crown and might require extraction
If you’re suffering from a cracked tooth or wondering what to do with a chipped tooth (even if you’re not experiencing any pain), you’ll want to make an appointment right away. It’s important to note that if you have a cracked tooth, you should not use over-the-counter pain relief gels! Instead, bite on clean gauze to relieve your symptoms and make your appointment sooner rather than later.