Sam Qamar, D.M.D.
1560 Live Oak
Webster, TX 77598
How do I know if my tooth is cracked?
Cracked teeth show a
variety of symptoms, including erratic pain when
chewing, possibly with release of biting pressure,
or pain when your tooth is exposed to temperature
extremes. In many cases, the pain may come and go,
and your dentist may have difficulty locating which
tooth is causing the discomfort.
have I been referred to an endodontist?
All dentists receive basic
training in the diagnosis and treatment of cracked
teeth in dental school. However, some cracked teeth
can be especially difficult to diagnose, and
treatment may involve root canal treatment. That’s
why you have been referred to an endodontist.
Endodontists are dentists
with at least two additional years of education that
include the diagnosis and treatment of unusual
dental pain. Cracked tooth pain often comes from
damage to the inner soft tissue of the tooth, the
pulp. Endodontic treatment, also known as root canal
treatment, can relieve that pain.
Early diagnosis is
extremely important. Like cracks in a windshield,
cracks in teeth often start small and progress
slowly. The sooner a crack is detected and treated,
the better the chance of saving your tooth. The
endodontist’s special training and experience can be
valuable when a cracked tooth is suspected.
does a cracked tooth hurt?
To understand why a cracked
tooth hurts, it helps to know something about the
anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the
white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is
the inner soft tissue called the pulp. The loose
pulp is a connective tissue that contains cells,
blood vessels and nerves.
When the outer hard
tissues of the tooth are cracked, chewing
can cause movement of the pieces, and the
pulp can become irritated. When biting
pressure is released, the crack can close
quickly, resulting in a momentary, sharp
pain. Irritation of the dental pulp can be
repeated many times by chewing. Eventually,
the pulp will become damaged to the point
that it can no longer heal itself. The
tooth will not only hurt when chewing but
may also become sensitive to temperature
extremes. In time, a cracked tooth may begin
to hurt all by itself. Extensive cracks can
lead to infection of the pulp tissue, which
can spread to the bone and gum tissue
surrounding the tooth.
How will my cracked
tooth be treated?
There are many
different types of cracked teeth. The
treatment and outcome for your tooth depends
on the type, location, and extent of the
Craze lines are
tiny cracks that affect only the outer
enamel. These cracks are extremely common in
adult teeth. Craze lines are very shallow,
cause no pain, and are of no concern beyond
When a cusp
(the pointed part of the chewing
surface) becomes weakened, a
fracture sometimes results. The
weakened cusp may break off by
itself or may have to be removed by
the dentist. When this happens, the
pain will usually be relieved. A
fractured cusp rarely damages the
pulp, so root canal treatment is
seldom needed. Your tooth will
usually be restored with a full
crown by your dentist.
This crack extends from the
chewing surface of the tooth
vertically towards the root. A
cracked tooth is not
completely separated into two
distinct segments. Because of the
position of the crack, damage to the
pulp is common. Root canal
treatment is frequently needed to
treat the injured pulp. Your dentist
will then restore your tooth with a
crown to hold the pieces together
and protect the cracked tooth. At
times, the crack may extend below
the gingival tissue line, requiring
extraction. A nontreatable tooth is
shown in the graphic above.
Early diagnosis is important. Even
with high magnification and special
lighting, it is sometimes difficult
to determine the extent of a crack.
A cracked tooth that is not treated
will progressively worsen,
eventually resulting in the loss of
the tooth. Early diagnosis and
treatment are essential in saving
split tooth is often the
result of the long term
progression of a cracked
tooth. The split tooth is
identified by a crack with
distinct segments that can
be separated. A split tooth
cannot be saved intact. The
position and extent of the
crack, however, will
determine whether any
portion of the tooth can be
saved. In rare instances,
endodontic treatment and a
crown or other restoration
by your dentist may be used
to save a portion of the
After treatment for a cracked tooth, will my
tooth completely heal?
broken bone, the fracture in a cracked tooth
will not heal. In spite of treatment, some
cracks may continue to progress and
separate, resulting in loss of the tooth.
Placement of a crown on a cracked tooth
provides maximum protection but does not
guarantee success in all cases.
treatment you receive for your cracked tooth
is important because it will relieve pain
and reduce the likelihood that the crack
will worsen. Once treated, most cracked
teeth continue to function and provide years
of comfortable chewing. Talk to your
endodontist about your particular diagnosis
and treatment recommendations. S/he will
advise you on how to keep your natural teeth
and achieve optimum dental health.
What can I do to prevent my teeth from
cracked teeth are not completely
preventable, you can take some steps to make
your teeth less susceptible to cracks.
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Clear Lake Endodontics