What Is Cracked Tooth Syndrome?

What Is Crack Tooth Syndrome – Crown as Preventative Treatment

cracked and broken teethCracked tooth syndrome means that you have a crack in your tooth, but it’s too small or too subtle for an x-ray to pick up. And it’s even harder to spot if the crack is under the gum line. This type of crack can occur in any tooth, but it’s more common on the lower molars in the back of the mouth. That’s because these teeth do a lot of heavy lifting, from chomping on solid foods to grinding soft, sinewy foods. 

How do you know if you have cracked tooth syndrome?

X-rays are notoriously bad at showing these types of cracks on film. It’s even difficult for dentists to see a crack when it’s located below the gum line. So most patients and dentists are clued in to cracked tooth syndrome when the patient experiences pain from inflamed pulp inside the tooth or temperature sensitivity. In early stages of the condition, inflammation is reversible. 

The pain from cracked tooth syndrome is similar to the pain caused by a cavity. It’s known to cause throbbing at times, especially when you bite into a piece of food or when the tooth is exposed to very cool or hot temperatures. 

Symptoms of cracked tooth syndrome

  • Pain in the tooth when chewing and biting
  • Intermittent throbbing or aching pain
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Pain that occurs upon the release of biting on food (or an object)
  • The affected tooth can loosen or chip

Why you need to see your dentist

According to Colgate, “the pain or discomfort won’t be constant, as with a cavity.” On the one hand, it’s great news that symptoms of cracked tooth syndrome are manageable. But sporadic pain can be problematic because it leads some patients to dismiss the problem and put off a dental exam. When symptoms come and go, patients feel like there’s no urgency to see a dentist, diagnose the problem, and discuss treatment options. 

Westgate Dental takes a different approach. Patients who feel pain or discomfort in a tooth are encouraged to make an appointment. Diagnosing cracked tooth syndrome early means the dentist can prevent the crack from getting worse and save an otherwise healthy tooth. But if even a small crack is left untreated for too long, the trauma is likely to worsen. And if the inflamed pulp in the tooth is no longer reversible, patients usually require a higher level of treatment, such as an extraction or root canal.

How to treat cracked tooth syndrome

Dr. Steven Yarbrough and Dr. Rebecca Rightmer at Westgate Family Dental have a proven method for treating cracked tooth syndrome. They’ve been helping to reduce dental pain and saving healthy teeth by intervening early and putting a crown on the tooth. Even if the pulp inside the tooth is inflamed, this type of treatment has a far better outcome compared to other treatments. According to one study, when “a cracked tooth with [reversible inflammation] is managed with a crown [or comparable treatment], over 80 percent are still vital in six years.” So much more often than not, the dentist cures the inflammation, eliminates symptoms, repairs the crack, and restores the healthy tooth. But this outcome requires early diagnosis and treatment. 

What happens if you “wait and see” if your symptoms go away

The “wait and see” approach is not a treatment many dentists support. According to Jeff Lineberry, DDS, a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), “If the cracked tooth cracks further and eventually involves the pulp and/or develops into a split tooth and is lost, then we have to ask ourselves, did we really help our patient long-term? 


  1. Krell KV, Rivera EM. A six year evaluation of cracked teeth diagnosed with reversible pulpitis: treatment and prognosis. J Endod. 2007;33: 1405-1427.
  2. Lineberry, Jeff, April 12, 2017. What Are Treatment Options for the Cracked Tooth? Retrieved from https://www.speareducation.com/spear-review/2017/04/what-are-treatment-options-for-the-cracked-tooth

3. Cracked Tooth Syndrome, retrieved from https://www.colgate.com/en-gb/oral-health/conditions/cracked-tooth-syndrome

Request an Appointment

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.