How Painful Is a Cracked Tooth? Understanding the Symptoms and Treatment Options

Cracked tooth – just the sound of it is enough to send shivers down the spine of even the bravest souls. It’s not uncommon to find your mouth in agony due to a cracked tooth, and it can happen to anyone at any time. Whether you take a nasty fall or bite down on something hard, a cracked tooth can be a real pain, quite literally.

If you’ve ever experienced the excruciating sensation of a cracked tooth, you know it can be pretty unbearable. The kind of pain that makes it hard to eat, drink, or even talk. Moreover, it can cause you to lose sleep and focus, leading to an overall negative impact on your quality of life. When left untreated, a cracked tooth can even result in severe infection, requiring extensive dental care, and ultimately leading to the loss of the tooth.

Despite your best intentions, sometimes, accidents can happen that lead to a cracked tooth. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s undoubtedly a problem that should not be ignored. If you’re suffering from this issue or just want to learn more about how to prevent it, stick around. We are going to explore the ins and outs of cracked teeth, home remedies, and professional treatment options to help get you back to your best self.

Causes of Cracked Teeth

Are you experiencing a sharp pain in your tooth every time you bite down on something hard or cold? You may have a cracked tooth. Cracked teeth can range from mildly uncomfortable to excruciatingly painful, and can be caused by a number of different factors.

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

  • Chewing on hard objects: Using your teeth as tools to open packages, crack nuts, or bite into hard candies can lead to cracks in your teeth.
  • Facial trauma: Accidents, falls, and sports injuries can all cause enough force to crack a tooth.
  • Large fillings: Teeth that have been extensively filled are more susceptible to cracking under pressure.
  • Grinding or clenching: People who grind or clench their teeth while they sleep put a lot of pressure on their teeth, which can eventually lead to a crack.
  • Temperature changes: Repeatedly exposing your teeth to extreme hot and cold temperatures can cause them to expand and contract, which can lead to cracks.

If you suspect that you may have a cracked tooth, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible. Ignoring the problem can lead to more serious issues, such as infection, nerve damage, and even tooth loss.

Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth

Dealing with a cracked tooth can be a painful and uncomfortable experience. Knowing the symptoms of a cracked tooth is crucial for getting the proper diagnosis and treatment. Here are some common symptoms to look out for:

  • Pain when biting or chewing: This is one of the most common signs of a cracked tooth. The pain can be sudden and sharp, and it may go away when you stop biting or putting pressure on the affected tooth.
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures: Cracks in the tooth can cause sensitivity to temperature changes. You may feel pain or discomfort when consuming hot or cold foods and beverages.
  • Visible signs of damage: If the crack is visible, you may notice a jagged edge or a missing piece of the tooth. The crack may extend vertically or horizontally.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible. Leaving a cracked tooth untreated can lead to further damage and infection.

A cracked tooth can also cause other symptoms, such as:

  • Persistent toothache: This may be a dull ache or a sharp pain, depending on the severity and location of the crack.
  • Swollen gums: The crack can allow bacteria to enter the tooth, causing inflammation and swelling in the gum tissue surrounding the tooth.
  • Bad breath: If the crack allows bacteria to accumulate, it can lead to bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

In some cases, the symptoms of a cracked tooth may not be immediately apparent. However, as the crack worsens over time, the pain and discomfort can become more pronounced.

Type of Crack Description
Craze lines Minor cracks on the surface of the tooth that don’t usually cause pain.
Fractured cusp The chewing surface of the tooth breaks off, but the root remains intact.
Cracked tooth A crack that extends vertically from the chewing surface to the root, causing pain and discomfort.
Split tooth A severe crack that causes the tooth to split into two separate pieces.
Vertical root fracture A crack that begins at the root and extends upwards.

Depending on the type and severity of the crack, your dentist may recommend a variety of treatments, such as bonding, crowns, or endodontic surgery. In some cases, the tooth may need to be extracted.

If you suspect that you may have a cracked tooth, don’t wait to seek treatment. Early intervention can help to prevent further damage and alleviate your pain and discomfort.

How to Diagnose a Cracked Tooth

Dealing with a cracked tooth can be an agonizing experience, but it is essential to know if you have one. Here are ways to diagnose a cracked tooth:

  • Examining the symptoms: A cracked tooth can be identified by the numerous symptoms that come along with it. These symptoms include; pain when biting, increased sensitivity to hot or cold, swelling of the gums, and pain that comes and goes.
  • Using a dental tool: In some cases, even a visual examination may not be enough to diagnose a cracked tooth. A dentist may have to use a tool to go through each tooth to find the one that is cracked.
  • X-rays: An X-ray is another way that your dentist can diagnose a cracked tooth. This is particularly useful in cases where the crack is not visible during a visual examination or when using a dental tool.

It is vital not to ignore any pain in your teeth, even if the pain comes and goes. The problem could be more severe than you think and ignoring it will only make the situation worse. Once your dentist has confirmed that you have a cracked tooth, it is essential to get it treated promptly by a dental professional.

If you’re experiencing tooth pain, it’s always best to contact a local dentist who can diagnose and provide an accurate treatment plan. Ignoring an issue with your teeth will only lead to further pain and complications.

Dental Tool X-ray Image
dental tool x-ray image

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What Happens if a Cracked Tooth is Left Untreated

Dealing with a cracked tooth can be a challenging experience. Apart from the discomfort and pain that comes with it, a cracked tooth can cause severe damage to your dental structure and even lead to tooth loss. Below are some of the consequences that you might be facing if you leave a cracked tooth untreated:

  • Bacterial Infections: A cracked tooth creates a pathway for bacteria to get into the pulp and nerves of the tooth, leading to infections.
  • Tooth Decay: A cracked tooth can expose the underlying dentin and cause bacteria to accumulate in the tooth, leading to cavities.
  • Gum Disease: When a cracked tooth is left untreated, the surrounding gums can become inflamed and infected, leading to gum disease.

It’s important to consult a dentist as soon as possible if you suspect that you have a cracked tooth. Leaving it untreated can lead to further complications that can affect not only your dental health but also your overall health. Some of the other consequences of an untreated cracked tooth include:

1. Tooth Loss: A severe crack that extends into the pulp of the tooth can cause irreparable damage to the tooth and necessitate extraction.

2. Root Canal: If the crack extends into the pulp of the tooth, a root canal procedure may be required to prevent further damage and pain.

3. Abscess Formation: If bacteria enter the pulp and cause an infection, an abscess can form. This can lead to severe pain, swelling, and even fever.

4. Tooth Fracture: A cracked tooth that is left untreated can eventually fracture, leading to even more pain, discomfort, and damage.

Consequence of Untreated Cracked Tooth Description
Bacterial Infections Infections caused by the spread of bacteria into the tooth pulp.
Tooth Decay The exposure of the underlying dentin to bacteria and decay.
Gum Disease Inflammation and infection of the gums surrounding the cracked tooth.
Tooth Loss The need for extraction due to irreversible damage from the cracked tooth.
Root Canal A dental procedure required to save a cracked tooth from further damage.
Abscess Formation The formation of an abscess due to bacterial infection, leading to pain and swelling.
Tooth Fracture The eventual fracture of the cracked tooth, leading to more pain and damage.

Leaving a cracked tooth untreated can have severe consequences for your dental health and overall well-being. If you suspect that you have a cracked tooth, it’s essential to seek immediate dental attention from a qualified dental professional.

Common Treatments for a Cracked Tooth

A cracked tooth can be a painful and uncomfortable experience. Luckily, several treatments can repair the tooth and alleviate the pain. Here are five common treatments:

  • Dental Bonding: This is a process where the dentist applies a tooth-colored resin to the cracked tooth to repair any chips or cracks. They then shape and polish the resin until it blends in with the natural tooth.
  • Dental Crowns: Placing a dental crown over the cracked tooth is a common treatment method. The crown prevents any further damage and strengthens the tooth. Crowns are available in a variety of materials, including ceramic, porcelain, or metal.
  • Root Canal: In cases where the crack goes deep into the tooth, a root canal may be necessary. This procedure involves removing the damaged part of the tooth, cleaning the root canal, and sealing it to prevent further damage.
  • Tooth Extraction: In severe cases where the tooth is beyond repair, the dentist may recommend extraction. After the tooth is removed, the patient may opt for a dental implant or bridge to replace the lost tooth.
  • Bite Adjustment: Sometimes, a misaligned bite or grinding teeth can put excess pressure on certain teeth, causing them to crack. In such cases, the dentist may recommend bite adjustment or different orthodontic treatments to prevent further damage.

Prevention is Key

Preventing cracked teeth is easier than treating them. The following tips can help avoid such accidents:

  • Use mouthguards during sports activities
  • Avoid chewing hard foods or ice
  • Correct any misaligned bite or teeth grinding problems
  • Regularly visit the dentist for check-ups and cleanings


A cracked tooth can be a painful experience, but there are several treatments available to repair the damage and prevent further problems. Remember to consult your dentist as soon as you experience any discomfort to prevent further damage. Also, take preventative measures to reduce the risk of cracked teeth in the first place.

Common Treatments for a Cracked Tooth Advantages Disadvantages
Dental Bonding Quick and painless procedure The bonding material may chip off over time
Dental Crown Prevents further damage to the tooth and strengthens it Requires two dental office visits for placement and may cause sensitivity to temperature changes
Root Canal Can save the damaged tooth and prevent further damage May cause temporary discomfort after the procedure
Tooth Extraction Removes the damaged tooth completely May require additional procedures such as dental implants or bridges to replace the lost tooth
Bite Adjustment Corrects any misaligned bite or teeth grinding issues May require a series of orthodontic treatments and regular dental check-ups to maintain the correction

Overall, consulting with a dental professional is crucial to treating a cracked tooth. Discuss treatment options and preventative measures to avoid further damage.

Pain Management for a Cracked Tooth

A cracked tooth is one of the most painful dental problems that one can experience. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for a cracked tooth. However, there are effective pain management methods that can be used to alleviate the pain that comes with a cracked tooth. Here are some pain management techniques that can be used to make the experience of a cracked tooth bearable.

  • Over-the-counter pain medication: Painkillers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help to reduce the pain caused by a cracked tooth. These can be bought over-the-counter from a drug store or pharmacy.
  • Cold compress: Applying a cold compress to the affected area can help to reduce the pain and swelling that comes with a cracked tooth. Wrap a bag of ice in a towel or use a cold gel pack and apply it to the outside of your cheek, near the affected tooth.
  • Warm salt water: Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can help to alleviate the pain associated with a cracked tooth. The salt reduces inflammation and helps to clean the affected area, reducing the risk of infection.

It’s important to remember that these pain management techniques are temporary solutions and should not be relied on for a long period of time. Seeking the advice of a dental professional is the most effective way of managing a cracked tooth.

If left untreated, a cracked tooth can lead to further complications such as infections and abscesses. A dental professional can assess the severity of the injury and recommend a course of action that will treat the underlying cause of the pain. This may involve filling the tooth, applying a crown, or in severe cases, extracting the tooth.

Pain Management Techniques Effectiveness
Over-the-counter pain medication Effective for reducing pain in the short-term
Cold compress Effective for reducing pain and swelling in the short-term
Warm salt water Effective for reducing pain and inflammation in the short-term

It’s important to remember that the effectiveness of pain management techniques will vary depending on the individual, the severity of the injury and the cause of the pain. Seeking professional advice is the best course of action when dealing with a cracked tooth.

Preventing Cracked Teeth

Preventing a cracked tooth is much easier than treating one. Here are some tips to keep your teeth healthy and strong:

  • Wear a mouthguard: If you play contact sports or grind your teeth at night, a mouthguard is essential to protect your teeth from trauma.
  • Avoid chewing on hard objects: Chewing on ice, pens, and other hard objects can cause your teeth to crack or chip.
  • Practice good oral hygiene: Brushing twice a day and flossing regularly can help keep your teeth healthy and strong.

It’s also important to visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. They can identify any early signs of a cracked tooth and recommend treatment before it becomes a bigger problem.

Additionally, some dental procedures can weaken your teeth and make them more susceptible to cracking. Here are some examples:

  • Large fillings: Large fillings can weaken your teeth, making them more likely to crack. If you need a filling, your dentist may recommend an inlay or onlay instead of a traditional filling to help strengthen your tooth.
  • Root canals: After a root canal, your tooth may be more brittle and prone to cracking. Your dentist may recommend a crown to protect your tooth after a root canal.
  • Bruxism: Grinding your teeth (bruxism) can weaken your teeth over time, making them more prone to cracking. Your dentist may recommend a nightguard to protect your teeth if you grind them at night.

By following these tips and working with your dentist, you can help prevent a painful cracked tooth and keep your smile healthy and strong.

FAQs about How Painful is a Cracked Tooth

1. How much pain can a cracked tooth cause?

Cracked teeth can cause varying degrees of pain. It could be mild discomfort to intense and sharp pain, depending on the extent of the crack.

2. Can a cracked tooth cause pain without any visible signs?

Yes. A hairline crack may not always be visible, but it can still cause pain when you chew or apply pressure on the affected tooth.

3. What other symptoms can a cracked tooth cause apart from pain?

In addition to pain, you might also experience sensitivity to hot or cold stimuli, swelling in the gums, and even a fever or headache in severe cases.

4. What causes a tooth to crack?

Several things can cause teeth to crack, such as biting hard foods or objects, teeth grinding or clenching, and physical trauma to the face or mouth.

5. Can a cracked tooth heal on its own?

Unfortunately, no. A cracked tooth will not heal on its own, and the pain will likely worsen over time. Proper dental treatment is essential to prevent further damage.

6. What treatment options are available for a cracked tooth?

The treatment options for a cracked tooth may vary, depending on the extent and location of the crack. They may include dental bonding, a crown or cap, or even a root canal in severe situations.

7. How can I prevent my teeth from cracking?

You can prevent tooth cracks by practicing good oral hygiene habits, avoiding hard foods or objects, wearing a mouthguard during physical activities, and visiting your dentist regularly.

Closing Note

Thanks for reading about how painful a cracked tooth can be. Remember to take care of your teeth and schedule regular dental check-ups to prevent any dental issues. Stay healthy and come back soon for more informative articles.