Do your teeth hurt after a small hit but apparently, there is nothing wrong? Well, you may not be sure of the latter because you could have cracked tooth syndrome.

A cracked tooth syndrome is when a small crack exists on your molars or other teeth but it isn’t identifiable even in X-rays.

This is usually because the crack is too small or hidden under the gums.

You do not need to get hit to develop this crack.

Rather, teeth grinding, pressure on teeth and a root canal can cause it too.

This article discusses how you can identify and treat it timely. Keep reading to know more!

cracks in person's teeth

Cracked Tooth Syndrom Symptoms

One of the main symptoms is experiencing pain while you eat and chew food.

This pain can come and go but becomes more pronounced when you are releasing the bite.

Besides pain, there is also increased tooth sensitivity to hot and cold triggers whenever you eat or drink something.

Sweet foods are another trigger.

However, the pain and sensitivity, both are temporary.

The toothache exists while you bit and chew food.

Therefore it is not continuous and comes or goes usually when there is pressure on the teeth like in chewing.

Along with that there can be swelling around the tooth that hurts and also on the gums.

These cracks usually appear on the molars than anywhere else.

However, they can be on other teeth, given the reason behind their appearance.

What are the particular reasons and causes behind it? Let’s find out below!

tooth crack structure

Cracked Tooth Syndrome Causes

Cracks can happen because of external factors such as a hit or even bad habits like teeth grinding.

The main causes behind this syndrome include:

  • Unhealthy habits such as chewing ice
  • Increasing age as cracks starts to appear after you are 50 years old. This is because of enamel wear and tear due to constant chewing and biting over the years.
  • Eating hard foods such as candy and nuts
  • Large fillings that end up weakening the tooth’s structure
  • Teeth grinding pressure
  • A hit because of an accident or injury
  • Cracks after root canal treatment that weakens the tooth
  • Sudden changes in temperature such as eating something hot and cooling the teeth and burnt tongue immediately with ice-cold water.
  • If your teeth are misaligned then there can be more pressure on one tooth than the rest causing it to crack

Therefore, all these reasons play part in initiating cracks.

The crack can occur on the crown or on the root.

The root is present below the gum while the crown is visible to others above the gum.

In these two, there is enamel- the outer layer of the tooth, dentin- the middle part and pulp- the inner tissues that consist of blood vessels and nerves.

The crack can appear on all of these parts of the tooth resulting in a fracture.

However, the extent of the fracture determines its treatment.

Sometimes the cracks can have no symptoms at all.

While they can more commonly occur on the molars, the upper front teeth are also at risk.

Among the molars, the mandibular molars that are towards the back of the lower jaw are at the greatest risk.

As a filling and root canal weakens teeth, those that have it are prone to fractures and cracks.

cracked tooth syndrome types

Types of Cracks

In a cracked tooth syndrome, the cracks are small enough to be hardly detectable.

This can be in the form of craze lines.

Craze lines are very stingy cracks appearing on the enamel.

They usually come because of age.

Plus, they do not hurt nor do they necessarily need treatment.

However, other types of cracks do and are also recognizable.

These include:

Extensive Crack -Split Tooth

In this case, the crack is big enough to grow below the gum line originating from the surface.

The tooth cannot be saved at this point however, some restorations can save a portion.

Dental Filling -Fractured Cusp

A fractured cusp happens around a filling.

The fillings are sometimes large enough that they weaken the integrity of the tooth.

However, this crack does not go further reaching the pulp.

Hence, there is no pain as the crack does not reach the nerve endings.

Vertical Cracks Extending to Gum Line 

If a crack extends to the gum line then it is hard to save the tooth.

However, if it still does not reach there yet then your dentist can prevent an extraction.

Getting timely treatment will save the tooth promptly.

Cracked Tooth Syndrome vs Vertical Root Fracture 

The vertical root fracture originates below the gum line.

Hence, unlike other cracks, it makes its way upwards.

Like a cracked tooth syndrome, there are not many symptoms that are until it becomes infected.

In that case, you will require a tooth extraction.

That said, all of these fractures and cracks indicate a complete or incomplete breakage of teeth.

However, craze lines and cracked teeth are incomplete breaks.

A split tooth on the other hand represents a total break.

In order to identify what kind of crack you have, your dentist will run a diagnosis.

periodontal probe detecting a crack

Diagnosing the Condition

In order to detect the cracks, you will require several tests.

This is why people keep suffering from pain and symptoms as it takes longer and is difficult to diagnose.

Part of the diagnosis is:

  • an oral examination
  • taking dental history
  • X-ray radiographs
  • fiber optic handpiece to detect the extent of the crack

Your dentist will check your teeth and ask about your eating habits.

Whether you chew ice, eat hard foods and grind your teeth.

They will check the extent of the cracks using a magnifying glass or fiber optic handpiece.

Plus they will notice if it is only broken or completely knocked out.

Your dentist can ask you to bite down from a stick to notice if you feel pain in any particular teeth especially while releasing the bite.

In order to identify a small crack, they may use a dental dye as well as a dental explorer around your teeth to see if the periodontal probe gets caught somewhere in a crack.

Moreover, they will look for inflammation.

This helps to identify vertical cracks that originate from the gums, hence an inflammation in the gums can point towards that.

Illuminating a light through your teeth can also reveal small cracks.

Your dentist may recommend you to get an X-ray.

But that doesn’t reveal the cracks then why is it needed?

Well, an X-ray can at least tell if your pulp health is poor.

This indicates the presence of a crack affecting the pulp.

It can also show bone loss and severe fractures.

Your dentist can also tell you to undergo a cone beam CT scan.

This 3D scan can show bone loss that usually happens because of extensive cracks which are actually fractures.

Also, people with prior cracks are more likely to have them in the future.

treatment for cracked filling

Treating Cracked Tooth Syndrome

The treatment depends on the severity of the crack and its size.

Cracks like craze lines barely need any treatment.

However, you can choose to enhance your appearance by replacing the tooth’s surface with a veneer or crown.


A dental crown caps a damaged tooth.

It is usually used when you lack enough front surface or os there isn’t enough natural tooth left.

In order to fit a crown, your dentist shaves some enamel.

This helps to make room for the porcelain or ceramic crown.

After making an impression of your teeth it is fit and cemented onto your crack.


If the crack is small enough then you do not need to replace it with a crown, rather your dentist can simply fill it.

A plastic resin bonding can fill in the clack restoring your tooth’s look.


Your dentist covers the front of your tooth with a veneer.

This plastic covering is for when you do have enough natural tooth remaining to attach a veneer.

Tooth Extraction 

In case the damage is severe to the roots, gum, tooth structure and nerves then your only option is extraction.

This is usually possible when the damage reaches the pulp.

Another treatment for that is the root canal.

Root Canal

Your dentist needs to remove the pulp that is already damaged if the crack reaches deep.

This can provide the tooth with some strength to prevent further infections or weakening.

Your dentist may advise you to let the crack be if it does not cause pain, isn’t severe and does not affect your appearance either.

Follow their advice as your dentist knows better about your condition and what you actually need.

preventing cracked tooth syndrome


There are treatments available for the cracks but what if you do not detect them on time?

The harmless cracks can turn bigger, chipping a part of your tooth.

Moreover, there is a risk of infection due to swelling in the gums and subsequently getting a fever.

Plus, you may have bad breath, tenderness in your gland and an abscess can form too.

What’s more, your teeth can become extremely sensitive to hot and cold foods plus drinks.

If you want to prevent all of these, refrain from some habits starting today.

  • Relieve stress to not grind teeth at night.
  • Wear a mouthguard to prevent your teeth from clenching and grinding against each other while sleeping
  • Refrain from chewing ice, popcorn kernel or candy
  • Take care of your teeth and gums by practicing good oral hygiene
  • Visit your dentist regularly

Summing Up,

If you feel pain while chewing food consults your dentist as soon as possible.

A cracked tooth syndrome is very easily solved if it is detected on time.

Otherwise, many other oral health problems and extensive treatments can result from it.

Hence, do not delay your dental visit and contact your doctor now.