Cracked Teeth Symptoms: What They Are and How to Fix Them

Broken teeth are easy to self-diagnose. If you break a tooth, you know it. You can see the remaining piece of the tooth, and chances are you can feel it. Ouch! Cracked teeth symptoms may be similar to broken teeth, but they can be a lot harder to see. Hairline cracks in the enamel can be so small that you can’t see them at all. Unfortunately, you may not know you have cracked teeth until the tooth’s interior becomes painful from infection. 

The team at Summit Dental Partners knows that while it’s easy to spot the symptoms, it’s not so easy to spot the cause. That’s why regular visits to the dentist are so important. But it’s also important to see the dentist if you suspect any problems with your teeth, like cracks. The first step is learning how to spot the symptoms of cracked teeth. 

Cracked Teeth Symptoms 

Cracked teeth have several symptoms, some worse than others. The symptoms can also come and go, making it difficult to determine whether you truly have a cracked tooth. 

Symptoms of cracked teeth include:

  • Pain when chewing
  • Increased sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Pain when biting pressure is released
  • Consistent pain in the tooth
  • Pain or irritation around the tooth

Symptoms may start subtly and get worse over time as the pulp — the living interior of the tooth — becomes more irritated and eventually infected. An infection can cause serious health issues or the loss of the tooth, which is why it’s important to address the problem early. 

At first, the symptoms may come and go depending on what you’re biting or chewing. Harder foods may cause pain, while softer ones may not. Biting down on something hard may cause pain. Releasing the bite may also hurt because the crack may widen as you bite down then close as you let go of the bite. That release suddenly causes the crack to squeeze the pulp, which can irritate the nerves in the pulp. 

Infection could set in as the pulp becomes more irritated and the crack widens. This could spread and kill the tooth. It could also cause other health issues. If the crack widens enough, it could split open. If that happens, the tooth can’t be salvaged and must be pulled. 

Cracked Teeth Causes

What causes a cracked tooth? Biting into hard foods or other objects are the two most obvious culprits. But other factors that could lead to cracked teeth may be harder to control. 

Here are some of the most common causes of cracked teeth:

  • Biting hard foods, including hard candies, ice, etc. 
  • Chewing ice or hard gum habitually
  • Enamel weakened by age, usually for those 50 or older
  • Having a large dental filling or root canal
  • Damage due to trauma or injury, such as from a sports injury or accident
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • Biting hard objects or grasping them in your teeth

As we said, many of these can be avoided. But some, such as aging and weakening from fillings or root canals, can be nearly impossible to avoid. 

How Do You Fix Cracked Teeth?

There are several ways to fix cracked teeth, depending on how severe the crack is and how much it has damaged the pulp. Once we find the crack through x-rays and visual examination, we can recommend which treatment is best for you. 

Some of the most common ways to fix a cracked tooth include: 

  • Bonding — filling the crack with a plastic resin that keeps the shape of the tooth.
  • Crowns — covering the tooth completely. This is for severe damage, and a root canal may be needed first.
  • Veneers — placing a thin layer of plastic or porcelain over the tooth to cover the crack and restore the tooth’s shape.
  • Contouring — smoothing the rough edges of a tooth if the crack or chip is small.
  • Removal — Pulling what’s left of the tooth if the tooth has split and the pulp has become infected or died. This is usually recommended as a last resort if there is no way to save the tooth.

How to Prevent Teeth Cracking

While not all cases are preventable, there are some steps you can take to avoid cracking your teeth. 

  • Breaking the ice-chewing habit. If you’re an ice-chewer, break the habit to avoid breaking your teeth. If you can’t seem to break the habit, check with your doctor. Ice chewing could be a symptom of iron deficiency anemia, which is a serious medical condition. 
  • Avoid hard candies and foods. They call them “jawbreakers” for a reason. Hard candies like those and others can break your teeth, so don’t bite down on them. 
  • Wear a mouthguard for sports. If you play sports, wear a mouthguard to avoid injury to your teeth. 
  • Wear a nightguard for bruxism. Special appliances called nightguards are designed to prevent grinding your teeth at night. Ask us about them! 
  • Don’t bite or chew on objects. Pens, pencils, fingernails, and even holding your keys in your teeth can chip or crack your teeth. Don’t use your teeth as an extra hand, and don’t chew on anything but food! 

These are a few suggestions to prevent cracked teeth. Do you think you might have a cracked tooth? If you’re in the Summit or Union County, NJ, areas, request an appointment to see us. We can help!