A cracked tooth is when general wear and tear has resulted in a crack appearing in the chewing surface of the tooth, which extends vertically down your tooth toward the root. The tooth is still intact, however if left untreated, part of the tooth will eventually fracture away or the crack will spread in to the nerve.
Signs and Symptoms:
Pain or discomfort when biting in to food. The discomfort won’t be constant such is the case with a cavity. Often there is ‘rebound pain’, i.e. pain occurring on release of the biting force.
To relieve the grinding pressure on teeth that is associated with cracked tooth syndrome, your dentist may suggest constructing an ‘occlusal splint’ or ‘grinding splint’ for you to wear. This appliance is a removable guard that is worn at night or during the day if there are times you notice yourself grinding.
There are specific tests that the dentist can perform in the surgery to determine whether the symptoms being experienced are attributed to cracked tooth syndrome.
Treatment depends upon the type, location and extent of the crack. A crack in a tooth does not heal, so treatment focuses on stabilising the crack so it does not worsen. If the crack is small and shallow, the cracked area can be removed and replaced with a filling. For larger cracks that have not yet extended too far towards the tooth root, the best treatment option is a crown to hold the tooth together.
Early diagnosis is important in order to save the tooth. Once the crack travels below the gum line and through the root, there is no other option but to extract the tooth.