As the name suggests, cracked tooth syndrome implies a subtle and sometimes intense crack in a particular tooth. This condition is most common in the molars or what are known as the ‘chewing teeth’. This is because, maximum pressure is put on these teeth, and over time, it is possible that cracks develop not only on a particular tooth but also spread to the root of the tooth. This problem is also common among those who are in the habit of teeth grinding or clenching their teeth too often. Unlike a chipped tooth, it is difficult to figure out the position of the cracked tooth or the tooth that is causing the pain, because the crack may not be clearly visible. Even for the dentist to locate it, either just by looking at it or by means of an X-ray is difficult. Nevertheless, its possibility can be identified by a number of symptoms, which have been explained here.
If you believe that a tooth is cracked, you may be able to confirm this when you feel a sharp pain in the tooth and the surrounding area, upon chewing. In some cases, if you have something too hot or cold, the same severe pain may be felt. Sensitivity is a symptom by which the possibility of a cracked tooth can be determined. The pain is not constant, which may make you feel that the problem has gone. However, if you continue experiencing pain when you bite or chew, it is likely that you have a cracked tooth.
If the crack is intense, it is possible that the affected part of the tooth may break away. In other cases, a crack may develop in the root of a tooth, and may cause the development of an infection in the gums, or other gum diseases. A lot of people suffer from the symptoms for a long time, because diagnosing the root cause of the problem is not easy. As such, only a visit to the dentist will help you understand the problem.
Sometimes, you may notice the appearance of lines that resemble cracks all over your teeth. These are what are known as ‘craze lines’, and are common in adults. These lines affect only the enamel of the teeth and do not cause any pain. As such, you needn’t worry about the appearance of such lines. However, you must follow basic dental care to prevent them, as they may affect your appearance.
To diagnose the issue, your dentist may use a tool that appears like a toothbrush without bristles, and ask you to chew on it. The experience of pain upon doing so will help give him an idea about the exact location of the cracked tooth. X-rays are usually not helpful in determining the location of such a tooth. The biggest difficulty is locating cracks in the root of the tooth, and this process may take a while after examining the gums in the area the pain is experienced. The treatment depends on the location of the crack, its depth, and its size.
- A mild crack may occur on the cusp (the pointed portion of the chewing surface of a tooth). This portion either eventually breaks off or has to be removed. The crack can be repaired by placing a full crown on the tooth that will minimize the intensity of the pain experienced when pressure is applied on it.
- A crack that begins on the tooth and extends towards the root may affect the pulp of the tooth. The pulp is the area that contains the nerves and the blood vessels. In such a case, this pulp is irritated due to the pressure or sensitivity to extreme temperatures, thereby causing pain. Here, a root canal is the only possible treatment. This treatment will eliminate the sensitivity to extreme temperatures, but you may experience slight pain even after that.
- If the crack has appeared in the root of the tooth, it may show in the form of a gum infection. If this is the case, the only way to eliminate it is by means of tooth extraction. The extracted tooth can be then replaced by a bridge.
- There is also a condition known as split tooth that occurs when a cracked tooth goes undiagnosed for long. The treatment for such a condition will depend upon the intensity of the crack. It can be treated by the use of a crown, but in some cases, replacement by dental implants will be required.
Cracked tooth syndrome is likely to affect teeth that may have decayed and have fillings. To identify and treat it, the filling may have to be removed.
Even after all the treatment procedures have been followed, it is never guaranteed that your cracked tooth will be repaired completely. In rare cases, it is possible that the crack may worsen over time. In order to protect the teeth from worsening further, you may be given a mouth guard for grinding teeth, in case this is the cause for your problem. The effectiveness of the treatment also depends on how soon the crack has been diagnosed. The sooner it is identified, the easier it will be to protect your teeth.