Cracked teeth demonstrate many types of symptoms, including pain when chewing, temperature sensitivity, or even the release of biting pressure. It is also common for pain to come and go, making it difficult to localize the cause of discomfort.
Chewing can cause movement of the cracked pieces of your tooth, and the pulp within the tooth becomes irritated. At the same time, when biting pressure is released, the crack can close, resulting in sharp pain. Eventually, the pulp will become inflamed 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.
Types of Cracks
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 may not injure the pulp, so root canal treatment is not necessary.Your dentist will usually restore the tooth with a full crown. However, if the tooth becomes painful root canal treatment would be advised.
This type of crack extends from the chewing surface of the tooth and vertically migrates into the pulp towards the root. If the crack does not extend below the gumline, the tooth is often still repairable. In this case, root canal treatment is usually necessary followed by placement of a crown. In some cases, the crack may extend below the gum line deep into the root resulting in loss of the tooth.
A split tooth is usually the result of an untreated cracked tooth. It can be identified by a crack with distinct segments. A split tooth cannot be saved.
Vertical Root Fracture
A vertical root fracture begins at the root end and extends towards the chewing surface of the tooth. Treatment may involve 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.