Cracked Tooth: The Causes, Symptoms, and Risks

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Some people get sharp, sudden pains in the teeth when chewing, especially with hot or cold food. Most may choose to ignore these aches, but these could be an indication that there’s an undetected crack of fracture in the teeth.

What are the causes?

There are various reasons for cracked teeth. Here are some of the common causes:

  • Frequent grinding or clenching of teeth
  • Biting down too hard on food
  • Biting hard food
  • Sudden temperature change (e.g., when a person burns their tongue from a hot beverage then drinking a glass of cold water to soothe the pain)
  • A large tooth filling that may weaken the remaining structure
  • Teeth alignment that may put too much pressure on certain teeth, causing them to crack

Athletes are more likely to sustain dental damage, especially those in high-contact and thrill-seeking sports. Cracked teeth are among the most common sports-related injuries, next to tooth intrusion and avulsion (i.e. knocked-out teeth). This is why protective gear is important, especially well-fitted mouth guards for baseball infielders, basketball, hockey, and other sports that have a high risk for dental injuries.

What are the symptoms?


A cracked tooth will not always have any symptoms. It’s also possible for people with a fractured tooth to not experience any pain, especially for cases where the crack is so shallow that it’s not visible to the naked eye. This type of crack may be harmless and not require treatment.

But bigger or deeper fractures can cause discomfort. These are the more common symptoms:

  • Inflamed gums around the damaged tooth or teeth
  • Intermittent pain
  • Sudden sensitivity to sweet, sour, or sticky food
  • Sudden sensitivity to hot or cold food
  • Sharp pains when chewing or biting
  • Discomfort in the gums or teeth that is hard to describe or pinpoint

What are the health impacts of an untreated cracked tooth?

If you notice these symptoms, see your dentist as soon as possible. Treatment for a chipped or broken tooth depends on the severity and placement of the crack, but some of the repairs an endodontist may perform are dental cap, dental veneer, or root canal therapy.

Leaving a tooth fracture untreated can exacerbate and expose you to dire health consequences. Over time, the crack may get bigger, especially if you continue potentially damaging habits, like teeth grinding, chewing ice, and consuming hot and cold liquids at the same time. If the crack begins at the crown of the tooth and then extends downward, the tooth may eventually split.

An untreated cracked tooth may also develop an infection that may spread to the gums and other teeth. The infection may further cause bad breath, sore neck glands, extreme inflammation of the gums, and increased sensitivity to hot and cold.

The best way around this problem is to consult your dentist. An x-ray will show if there are fractured teeth, and your dentist can decide on an action plan on how to address the crack. Prevent further cases of cracked teeth by practicing good dental hygiene. Brush your teeth thrice a day, floss every day, and visit your dentist regularly.

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