Dr. James C. DeFinnis's Dental Blog

Wilkes Barre Family Dentist Dr. James C. DeFinnis

Wilkes Barre Dentist Explains Cracked Tooth Syndrome

Woman with Sensitive ToothFor some patients, tooth pain and sensitivity may occur with no visible signs of injury to the enamel. In some cases, this scenario represents cracked tooth syndrome (CTS). Teeth may have small fractures, invisible even to X-rays. These fractures are actually miniscule cracks in the enamel, called craze lines by some, and they can exist below the gum line, making them even harder to detect. In some cases, one fracture in a location not visible to the naked eye can cause intense pain.

Causes of Cracked Tooth Syndrome

CTS often occurs in lower molars because they absorb most of the shock from chewing. Patients who grind their teeth excessively are susceptible to developing CTS, as are those who chew on ice, pens, or anything else that is hard. A tooth with a filling that is too large may develop cracked tooth syndrome, as well. Similarly, teeth weakened by a root canal are at risk. CTS is also caused by accidents resulting in a blow to the mouth or misaligned teeth that cause undue stress on teeth.

Common Symptoms of CTS

The most common symptom of cracked tooth syndrome is a sharp pain that does not linger, but occurs only when the patient either bites down or releases his or her bite. With biting, pressure opens the tiny cracks, exposing the dentin of the tooth. This causes sensitivity exacerbated by sugars and/or temperature. The patient will not typically feel a constant ache as with a cavity or abscess, and the pain may come and go as the tooth changes position. Patients with CTS may chew on one side of the mouth because of discomfort or pain felt by a cracked tooth on the opposite side. A tooth with CTS may become loose as the cracks worsen. Many patients suffer for months without proper diagnosis,simply because symptoms are not always consistent.

Types of Required Treatment

Treatment of an affected tooth depends on the location, direction, and size of the cracks. While CTS cracks only form on the outside layer of a tooth, outside of CTS, fractures can be deeper. Placement of a dental crown can usually repair a crack if it only affects the cusps and biting surface. If the crack is worse and affects the pulp of the tooth, a root canal may be required, although only 20 percent of teeth with CTS require endodontic treatment. In some cases, an affected tooth may even need extraction. There is no way to fix a crack if it reaches the root of the tooth under the bone. In this case, the only option is to remove the tooth. In the case of cracked tooth syndrome, symptoms do not always disappear with treatment because the nature of the cracsk make diagnosing the extent of the damage difficult.

To Schedule an Appointment

If you suffer from pain when you bite or chew, but you can’t see a cavity on your tooth, seek expert counsel. To schedule an appointment with Dr. James DeFinnis and our dental team at Back Mountain Dental, please call (570) 763-4360 or (570) 696-1105.


August 7, 2012 - Posted by | Back Mountain Dental, Bruxism, Tooth Sensitivity | , , , , , , ,

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