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A fractured or cracked tooth occurs when a tooth is cracked but isn’t broken. Though people commonly fracture one tooth, more severe injuries or trauma can fracture multiple teeth.
Some tooth cracks are small and harmless. Others grow and eventually break a tooth. If you suspect you have a cracked tooth, see your dentist immediately.
According to Dr. Nandita Lilly, one of NewMouth’s in-house dentists, “diagnosing a cracked tooth can be difficult because the crack may be so small that it's not visible on an X-ray or to the naked eye."
A cracked tooth, or fractured tooth, is commonly caused by:
The most common symptoms of a cracked tooth include:
It can be difficult to pinpoint which tooth has the crack. It’s also possible for a tooth to bear a visible crack but cause no symptoms whatsoever.
Some cracks may not be visible or show any symptoms. Schedule a visit with your dentist if you can see a crack or have persistent symptoms.
If you know you have a cracked tooth, seek medical attention immediately. If you have any of the following symptoms, visit your dentist:
These can indicate a tooth infection.
Leaving a cracked or fractured tooth untreated can lead to later complications. These include:
Treatment for a cracked tooth varies based on the type. You may not require treatment if the fracture is unnoticeable or painful.
Here are some common options for fixing tooth fractures:
These treatment options can cost as much as $1,000 to $2,000. However, insurance can help lessen the cost. The cost can also go down depending on the type of procedure.
Most cracks occur in posterior teeth.1 There are several different types of cracks and potential outcomes.
A cracked tooth occurs when a vertical crack reaches from the tooth’s surface to the gum line. It may extend under the gums and into the root of the tooth.
A simple tooth crack is the most common type. One study of people with cracked teeth found that 81.3% of the participants had this type of crack.2
Craze lines are hairline cracks that affect the outer enamel of the teeth. They typically cause no pain and don’t need treatment.
When a crack or fracture reaches the gum line, it becomes a split tooth. A split tooth causes your teeth to split into two parts. Often, a split tooth is not salvageable.
A fractured cusp is most common around an old dental filling. It usually only affects the tooth’s chewing surface and doesn’t cause a lot of pain.
This type of crack begins below the gum line and extends to the tooth's surface. These range in length and may not cause symptoms until the tooth becomes infected.
There’s no way to treat cracked teeth yourself, but you can take steps to prevent them in the future. Tips for avoiding tooth fractures include:
If you have a cracked tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water and apply an ice pack to the outside of your mouth to prevent swelling.
You can also take over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers. Make sure you see your dentist as soon as possible.
Cracked teeth are a common condition caused by chewing hard foods, grinding your teeth, injury, or the aging process.
There are many treatments for cracked teeth, including crowns, veneers, and root canals. Depending on various factors, insurance may cover some or all costs.
Visit your dentist as early as possible if you notice a cracked tooth.
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