Cracked teeth are very common and just about every person will have at least one in their lifetime. Symptoms usually involve pain when biting, similar to a jolt of lighting through the tooth. Over time the tooth develops hypersensitivity to hot and cold substances. These symptoms are often what bring a patient into the office.

Once in the office, we will try to reproduce the symptoms and confirm a cracked tooth by having the patient bite down on a special stick. If it triggers pain, in a specific spot on a tooth, but not the entire tooth, then we have found the source of the problem. Sometimes these cracks are visible with a bit of staining as demonstrated in the photo to the right.

Other times the crack is more internal and not visible at first. With the second photo on the right, the patient had a post in the tooth and a crown over top. The tooth cracked, triggering various symptoms, and was only clearly evident with the post and crown removed.

Leaving Cracked Teeth Alone

When left untreated and given time, cracked teeth will often break, just like a wire being bent over and over eventually snaps. In most cases, these teeth can still be fixed. Teeth with large restorations are most susceptible to this as witnessed in the following photos.
In some cases, the patient is not as fortunate and the prolonged stress to the tooth causes the nerve to die and possible abscess formation. At this stage, the tooth requires root canal treatment in addition to a full coverage restoration. In other cases, the tooth can break right through the middle and not be fixable.

Fixing Cracked Teeth

So what do we do with cracked teeth? The most predictable method for restoring cracked teeth is with a full coverage restoration such as crowns. A crown covers the tooth holding it together. In most cases, the crack is removed during the preparation process. In other cases, the crack is held together and prevented from flexing by the crown. Due to the complex nature of cracked teeth, and possible damage to the nerve of the tooth, treatment at our office will often vary from a standard full coverage restoration (crown). This variation involves leaving a temporary crown on the tooth for 1-2 months rather than the normal 1-2 weeks. This variation allows for removal of the crack and prolonged evaluation of the health of the nerve to determine whether root canal treatment will also be required.

Can a cracked tooth be fixed with a normal filling? On some occasions, a patient will request the tooth be fixed with a filling and in some cases, can work, for a time. In other cases, like this one, a filling was attempted due to financial reasons. Unfortunately, the crack ran vertically through the tooth, and could not entirely be removed. The hope was the bonded filling would provide enough strength to hold the tooth together. See the results for yourself.t will also be required.


So in conclusion, if you think you might have a cracked tooth you will want to do a couple of things. First, contact us to have it checked right away to see if it truly is a cracked tooth. If it is a cracked tooth, you will want to get a full coverage restoration on it as soon as possible.