A cracked tooth can cause pain and lead to dental complications¹, so it’s well worth understanding the different types of cracks and the symptoms to look out for. In this guide, we’ll explain the causes, the treatments, and the ways to help prevent cracks in your teeth.
What is a cracked tooth?
There are different types of cracks that may affect your teeth. These include²:
- Craze lines: Very small, shallow cracks in the enamel that typically don’t cause pain or require treatment.
- Fractured cusp: Usually found near a filling, it doesn’t cause much pain, as it doesn’t affect the soft pulp inside the tooth.
- Split tooth: The crack has different segments and typically extends from the surface to below the gum line. Sometimes a portion of the tooth can be saved.
- Vertical root fracture: Starts below the gum line at the root and extends up. There often aren’t any symptoms or pain until there’s an infection or abscess.
Oblique cracks: These include:
- Supragingival cracks affect the crown, and normally aren’t painful because they don’t extend below the gum line.
- Subgingival cracks do extend below the gum line, thus causing pain.
- Root cracks happen below the gum line, typically in the jawbone, and require extraction.
Cracked tooth causes
There are various ways you might crack a tooth. The main cracked tooth causes include³:
- Biting or chewing hard food, like nuts, ice or boiled sweets, or hard objects.
- Teeth grinding or extreme teeth clenching.
- A blow to the mouth, like in a sports injury or accident.
- Abrupt temperature changes, like drinking ice water after eating hot food.
- Cavities or large fillings.
- Natural ageing process – our team can wear down or weaken as we get older4.
Cracked tooth symptoms
You might not have any signs that your tooth is cracked, and you might not be able to see it. But if you experience any of the following symptoms, it could indicate you have a cracked tooth:
- Sensitivity to cold, hot or sweet things.
- Pain when biting or chewing, including when you release the bite.
- Localised pain in one tooth that flares up only when you aggravate it.
- Swollen gum next to the specific tooth.
- Constant pain or jaw pain – make sure you see your dentist immediately.
Cracked tooth treatment
Your dentist will know how to fix a cracked tooth, and the process will depend on the type of crack, where it is, how far it extends and how severe it is.
Possible cracked tooth treatment options include:
- Fitting a crown or filling (a fractured cusp might require this treatment).
- A root canal procedure (a possible treatment for oblique subgingival cracks).
- Removing the tooth if the crack is beneath the gum line (typically for root cracks and vertical root fractures).
How to relieve a painful cracked tooth
If you’re in pain from a cracked tooth then you should visit your dentist as soon as possible. You may be able to experience some relief from your painful cracked tooth in the meantime by rinsing your mouth with warm water, biting on a moist and clean cloth, or holding a cold compress on the outside of your cheek⁵.
The potential complications of a cracked tooth
Dental infection, or a tooth abscess, is perhaps the main complication of a cracked tooth and it can spread to your gums and bone. Watch out for symptoms of an infection like fever, bad breath and tender glands in your neck. Your dentist might prescribe antibiotics and try to drain the pus away⁶.
In addition to knowing how to fix a cracked tooth it’s just as important (if not more so) to know how to avoid cracking your tooth in the first place.
Try following these tips to help protect your teeth from damage:
- Avoid biting down on hard foods and hard objects.
- Wear a mouth guard if you grind your teeth or play contact sports.
- Visit your dentist for regular check-ups, and make an appointment as soon as possible if you experience any cracked tooth symptoms.
- Brush twice daily with products designed to keep your teeth strong, like Regenerate Advanced Toothpaste, powered by an exclusive and clinically proven NR-5™ technology. NR-5™ is designed to regenerate tooth enamel mineral*, reversing the early enamel erosion process, keeping teeth healthy and strong.
- Protect your teeth with additional products that help strengthen tooth enamel, such as Regenerate Advanced Enamel Serum, which works in tandem with Regenerate Advanced toothpaste to regenerate up to 82% of enamel after 3 days**.
Knowing about the causes and symptoms of a cracked tooth, and how you can prevent it happening to you, will help you take care of your teeth and protect your smile.
If you have any concerns about your teeth, always consult your dentist.
*Acts on early invisible stages of enamel erosion by restoring its mineral content and micro hardness with regular use. Clinically proven.
**Based on an in-vitro test measuring enamel hardness after 3 days combined use of Toothpaste and Serum.
The advice in this article does not constitute medical advice; it is solely available for information purposes. We recommend that you consult your dentist If you are experiencing any dental problems.