Cracked teeth

Cracked teeth are a common cause of dental symptoms, particularly in patients over 40 years of age. Typically, cracks are found in back teeth, which are used for chewing. There are different types of cracks and the treatment and outcome for your tooth will depend on the type, location, and extent of the crack.

Craze lines

Craze lines are small cracks that only affect the outer enamel. These cracks are common in adult teeth. They are very shallow, cause no pain, and are generally of no concern beyond appearances. However, a craze line can progress to become a more significant crack.

Fractured cusp

When a corner of a tooth’s chewing surface breaks off, often around a filling, it is referred to as a fractured cusp. A fractured cusp may not damage the pulp and often causes no significant pain. In fact, patients often complain of symptoms leading up to a cusp fracture, which settle once the cusp breaks off. While your dentist can place a filling or a crown over the fractured tooth for protection, it is often prudent to consider root canal treatment before placing a crown as symptoms often develop afterwards.

Cracked tooth

The term cracked tooth generally refers to a crack which extends from the chewing surface of your tooth downward towards the root. The tooth has not yet split. Symptoms include lingering cold and hot sensitivity, and sudden sharp pain when chewing (including on release of biting pressure). It is common for the pain to come and go over a period of months, and it can be difficult to locate the offending tooth. Diagnosis can be especially difficult. Generally, these teeth are eventually lost. If the crack extends beyond the gum line, the tooth’s future is certainly poor and an extraction is recommended. Early diagnosis is essential.

Split tooth

A split tooth has separated into different parts and is usually a result of the long-term spread of a crack. Split teeth typically require extraction.

Vertical root fracture

Vertical root fractures are cracks that begin in the root of the tooth and extend upwards towards the chewing surface. They usually occur in teeth that have previously undergone root canal treatment. Vertical root fractures generally only cause mild symptoms and can go unnoticed for some time. They are often discovered only when the surrounding bone and gum become infected and a gum boil develops. Treatment typically involves extraction of the tooth.