Detecting and Treating a Cracked Tooth

The appearance of a crack on the teeth can be treated as a cosmetic defect or as a serious dental problem. But whichever option you choose, you will be equally right: depending on the causes of this condition and other circumstances, the crack can be both a “harmless” sign, and evidence of severe health problems.

Types of cracks and their causes

All cracks on the teeth can be classified according to several characteristics:

  1. By amount;
  2. Based on eating habits;
  3. By the direction of cracks;
  4. By the depth of the cracks.

tooth cracked and its black photoBy their amount. A single crack on one tooth most often appears as a result of an injury – an excessive load on this tooth. This may be an attempt to open something with the help of teeth, nut biting, etc. The probability of injury is significantly increased if the tooth is located outside the dentition (beyond the boundaries of the conventional arc, on which are the rest of the teeth) or if there are structural anomalies in it.

Multiple cracks in most cases are caused by special features of human eating habits. For example, excessive addiction to sour fruits and citrus or frequent consumption of carbonated beverages. The acids contained in such products have a negative effect on the tooth enamel, destroying it. The appearance of multiple cracks on the front teeth, in the “smile zone” is often observed in smokers and fans to alternate cold and hot dishes and drinks. In both cases the cause of the enamel defects is an excessively high or low temperature, or their combination.

By the direction of cracks. Enamel cracking can be longitudinal (from top to bottom), transverse (across the tooth, along the horizontal axis) and oblique (the crack passes obliquely). Longitudinal cracks can occur for any reason, including thermal stress, enamel hypoplasia, etc. Transverse and oblique occur only due to mechanical trauma, which fell directly on the tooth or on the corresponding area of the face and jaw.

By depth. With severe traumatic damage to the tooth, the cracks are usually deep and can be detected almost immediately. Often the tooth area below the injured area loses stability and becomes mobile, it is clearly felt with the tongue moves or chewing. Shallow cracks can be generally invisible – they are most often detected only when you are examined by a dentist, under ultraviolet light or under magnification.

Concomitant symptoms

In fact, the symptoms are not caused by the crack on the tooth enamel itself, but by its depth. Regardless of the cause of this defect, and what type it is — longitudinal, transverse or oblique — the accompanying signs vary in the depth of tissue damage and include:

tooth cracked and it hurts photo

Tooth cracked and its black. When the crack is damaged only the surface of the enamel, the defect can exist for years in a constant state, without affecting the aesthetic side of the teeth. But if the crack eventually begins to deepen or initially affects the entire thickness of the enamel, pigments from products and beverages, from tobacco smoke, etc., penetrate into it, and the damage becomes noticeable only because it is painted more intensively than the entire surface of the tooth.

Hypersensitivity. If the crack reaches the surface of the dentin (tissue located directly under the enamel), hypersensitivity to cold, heat, acids develops in the damaged tooth.

Tooth cracked and it hurts. This symptom is most often observed in cracks of traumatic origin, when it comes to a partial fracture of the tooth. In this case, the pain develops due to damage to the pulp, which is a cluster of blood cand nerve tissues. In most cases, the pain syndrome develops sharply, at the time of injury, and the pain can spread from the causal tooth to the jaw, temple, ear, part of the face on the corresponding side.


In addition to the aesthetic problem, which are cracks on the teeth, the lack of attention to this problem can lead to a number of complications. Among them:

babies suffer from cracked tooth photoCaries. The crack is a gate for microorganisms that secrete substances that destroy the tooth. Specially in this case babies suffer from cracked tooth.

Soft tissue trauma. If the tooth is cracked as a result of an injury and the depth of the lesion can be classified as a fracture, part of the tooth can at any time separate from the base and sharp edges can seriously injure the gum, cheek, tongue and even the mucous throat, if the final fracture occurs at the time of chewing and swallowing food.

Tooth loss. Even with a partial fracture, if the doctor’s visit occurred without delay, the tooth can be saved. But if the treatment is ignored, there is a high probability of pulpit and infection in the root canals. In this disease, to eliminate pain and prevent further complications it is often necessary to resort to a radical method — tooth extraction.

Methods of treatment

Most dentists are inclined to the fact that if the tooth crack is of slight depth, and it does not cause discomfort, the intervention should be limited to the observation of the enamel. With regular visits to the doctor, the teeth are examined and the depth and width of the crack are assessed. If it remains unchanged, treatment is not required.

But if the tooth crack tends to expand and deepen, dentists can use the following methods:

  • Splinting the tooth. The damaged tooth is fixed with the help of a special orthopedic splint, which prevents the displacement of the tooth tissues to the sides.
  • Partial prosthetic. The tooth is fitted with a crown, which plays the role of a “cover”, which rigidly fixes the tooth, and at the same time protects it from external influences and retains its functionality.
  • Crack stopping is used in a limited number of cases, as it requires pre-cleaning of the crack with special tools, which can destabilize it and provoke its deepening or expansion.

If the tooth is cracked obliquely or across, and its part below the fracture is mobile, in most cases, removal of the fragment with the subsequent reconstruction of the crown part of the tooth is required.

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