West Coast Endodontics

Christina H. Vy, D.M.D.

Cracked Teeth

How do I know if my tooth is cracked?
Cracked teeth can cause erratic pain when chewing or exposed to temperature extremes. Because the pain may come and go, your dentist may have difficulty locating the affected tooth.

Why does a cracked tooth hurt?
When the outer hard tissue of your tooth is cracked, chewing can cause movement of the pieces and irritate the pulp. When you release the bite, the crack can close quickly and give you a sharp pain. The chewing motion further damages the pulp to the point that it can no longer heal itself. The tooth may then become sensitive to temperature extremes and eventually just hurt all the time. The danger is that infection may eventually spread to the surrounding bone and gum tissue.

How does the endodontist treat my cracked tooth?
The treatment and outcome for your tooth depends on where and how severe the crack is. Types of cracks include:

Craze Lines
Craze lines are extremely common. They are tiny, shallow cracks that affect only the outer enamel. They don’t cause pain or require treatment.

Fractured CuspCracked Tooth
A fracture sometimes happens when a cusp (the pointed part of the chewing surface) becomes weakened. When it breaks off by itself or is removed by the dentist, the pain is usually relieved. A root canal treatment is seldom needed and your dentist will restore the tooth with a full crown.

Cracked ToothCracked ToothWhen a crack extends vertically from the chewing surface vertically towards the root but the tooth isn’t completely separated, damage to the pulp may have occurred. Root canal treatment may be necessary, along with a crown restoration from your dentist. If the crack extends below the tissue line, extraction is the only option.
Early diagnosis is critical as an untreated cracked tooth will progressively worsen, eventually resulting in the loss of the tooth.

Cracked ToothSplit Tooth
A cracked tooth may eventually split into distinct segments that can be separated. While such a tooth can’t be saved intact, some portion of it might be saved by endodontic treatment or other restoration, depending on the severity.

Vertical Root Fracture
Cracked ToothCracks that extend from the root toward the chewing surface are called vertical root fractures and may go unnoticed until surrounding bone and gum become infected. While extraction may be necessary, endodontic surgery might be an option to save the tooth.

9907 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97266
P 503-762-2500
F 503-762-2504



AEE Logo