If you have had a fractured tooth then the fracture may have been clearly visible in x-rays. However, that is not always the case. When there is a fracture below the gum line that is small enough then it may not show up in your x-rays. That is called cracked tooth syndrome.
Cracked tooth syndrome is usually occurs in lower molars, which are most impacted from chewing. It is also common in people who grind their teeth or clench them often. It can also occur when your normal bite puts too much pressure on the opposing tooth.
If you have teeth with large fillings or a tooth that needed a root canal then it is more likely that you will end up with cracked tooth syndrome. Unfortunately if you have one cracked tooth then you can easily have more.
Possible symptoms include:
- discomfort when chewing some foods
- discomfort when biting a certain way
- sensitivity to cold temperatures
- loose tooth
It can be difficult for a dentist to diagnose cracked tooth syndrome because you can’t necessarily see the crack in an x-ray. He or she will examine your mouth, using an explorer to inspect the tooth and gums. There is a special instrument that can be used to test the tooth. It resembles a toothbrush and sits over part of your tooth as you bite down. If you feel discomfort then the dentist will suspect a crack.
Your dentist may also stain the tooth with a special dye to locate the crack or shine a fiber-optic light on it to make a diagnosis. It may be necessary to remove a filling or crown if there is one covering the tooth.
There are different types of cracks. If the crack splits into the root and affects the pulp then there can be more discomfort. In that case you may need a root canal. Cracked teeth can also be treated by adding a crown. There are times when it may be necessary to extract the tooth and replace it with a bridge or implant.
Your dentist can work with you to treat teeth grinding and clenching so make sure to let he or she know if that is an issue.
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