Cracked teeth are some of the most difficult teeth to diagnose accurately. The symptoms are highly variable. These may include inconsistent pain with chewing, pain when the tooth is exposed to hot or cold, or pain when you stop biting. These pains may be there one day and gone the next, only to return some time in the future.
Pain with cracked teeth is the result of the pulp or nerve tissue becoming damaged. Initially the pain may only occur when biting pressure is applied. As the nerve becomes more inflamed the pain may become constant. Eventually, the nerve will die and this can lead to an infection in the bone (an abscess).
Time is critical in the diagnosis of a fracture. The sooner a fracture can be found, the better the prognosis for the tooth.
Most of the time nerve tissue will become inflamed with these teeth and require root canal treatment. After the pulp chamber is opened the endodontist will evaluate the extent of the fracture. This is done through the use of hand held lights, dye, and the use of a surgical microscope. This is done to make sure the tooth is restorable and that the fracture line does not extend past where a crown ends.
If the cracked tooth is not treated in a timely manner it will worsen over time. Eventually the inaction will result in the loss of the tooth.
These are usually the result of a trauma, such as biting something hard or an accident, clenching or grinding. These make take months or even years to develop and be found.
Unlike a broken bone, which can produce more hard tissue to heal itself, the fractured tooth cannot. Through the use of a crown and bonded restorations the tooth can receive maximum protection. Unfortunately even with treatment some fractures may continue to progress and the tooth maybe lost in the future.