Have you ever had a sudden, sharp pain in your mouth when you chew? It may be from a cracked tooth. When you bite down, you're putting pressure on the tooth, causing the crack to open. When you stop biting, the pressure is released and you feel a sharp pain as the crack closes again. That opening-and-closing motion can irritate the pulp and the nerve inside the tooth. The tooth may become sensitive to hot, cold and sweet drinks and food. If the crack is not treated, the pulp may become damaged or diseased and you may need a root canal treatment.
If can be tough to tell if you have a cracked tooth. You may not be able to see it with the naked eye and it may not show up on x-rays right away. It's important you see a dentist as soon as you have a toothache so the dentist can probe the tooth and gums to diagnose the problem.
Wesley Chapel dentist Diaa Ghabbour, who practices at Coast Dental Wesley Chapel in Florida, says a tooth may crack for a number of reasons. "Teeth grinding, clenching your teeth, even biting down on something hard such as nuts or ice can cause a tooth to fracture," Dr. Ghabbour said. "The patient may have injured his or her mouth in an accident, such as a baby's head hitting the parent's lower jaw. Or the tooth may be weaker because it had a root canal, a large filling or a cavity."
This picture shows a patient who has two cracks in a tooth. Plus, the patient has a cavity (decay) at the base of the tooth.
When it's caught early, a cracked tooth may be able to be fixed through bonding or a crown. If the crack has damaged the nerve, then the patient may need a root canal treatment and a crown. If the tooth is severely cracked, then it may need to be extracted. Your dentist will have to examine your teeth to detemine which is the best treatment for you.
The important thing is to make sure you see a dentist as soon as the pain or sensitivity to certain food starts. The faster it's diagnosed, the earlier you can get it treated.
Wesley Chapel dentist Diaa Ghabbour, DMD, has been practicing dentistry since 2000. He provides general dentistry services to patients age 9 and up. Services include dental implant restorations, extractions and periodontal disease management. He is a member of the American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry. He practices at Coast Dental Wesley Chapel, 5348 County Road 581, Wesley Chapel, Florida, 33544. The phone number is (813) 973-1837 or call 1-800-32-SMILE to find another office that is close to you.
Written by: Beth Gaddis
Reviewed by: Diaa Ghabbour, DMD
Reviewed by: Cindy Roark, DMD