Cracked Tooth Syndrome

What Is Cracked Tooth Syndrome?

A lot of times, a tooth may crack and an obvious fracture appears on the tooth. However, with cracked tooth syndrome, a cracked tooth has tiny fractures that may not be identifiable on X-rays because they are so small, or because they are below the gum line.

Who Is Susceptible To Cracked Tooth Syndrome? Which Teeth Are Vulnerable?

People who grind their teeth or clench their jaws shut are more prone to experiencing cracked tooth syndrome. When the teeth are clenched together, the highest point of the tooth (the cusp) exerts pressure on the opposing tooth. This pressure can be strong enough to cause the tooth to crack.

Another reason that may lead to cracked tooth syndrome is when a tooth has experienced a large filling or undergone root canal treatment. These teeth are structurally weaker than healthy, natural teeth. This makes them more susceptible to cracks.

Cracked tooth syndrome mostly affects molars – especially the lower molars – because molar absorb most of the chewing forces.

  • Symptoms of Cracked Tooth Syndrome
  • Pain in the tooth when biting or chewing
  • Toothache only when eating certain foods
  • Pain when biting in a specific way
  • Sensitivity to cold temperatures
  • A tooth may be loose if the crack has worsened over time

Symptoms are not always constant, which makes it harder to accurately diagnose cracked tooth syndrome. It may take months before a proper diagnosis can be made.

How Is Cracked Tooth Syndrome Diagnosed?

A thorough physical examination is performed by the dentist. The dentist will pay particularly close attention to the tooth that is causing symptoms. An explorer, a tool used by the dentist, may be used to feel for cracks in the tooth. Dentists will also examine the gums around the tooth.

The dentist may shine a fiber-optic light onto the tooth, or stain it with a special dye in order to make a crack visible.

The dentist may also use an instrument that looks like a toothbrush without bristles that covers an individual tooth. The patient is then asked to bite down. If pain is experienced, there is most likely a crack within the cusp that is being tested.


Treatment can depend on several factors, including location, direction, and severity of the crack.

  • A crown can be used to restore the tooth if the crack affects one or more cusps of the tooth.
  • Root canal treatment is required when a crack affects the pulp (the center of the tooth that contains the tooth’s nerves).
  • Extraction may be necessary in extreme cases. Extraction is required when the crack extends into the root of the tooth, under the bone.

It is important to note that treatment isn’t always successful for cracked tooth syndrome. Sometimes symptoms persist after one type of treatment, and a second, different treatment is needed to try and relieve all the symptoms the patient is experiencing.

If you are experiencing symptoms similar to cracked tooth syndrome, call our office and make an appointment today at (407) 351-3213.