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Understanding Cracked Tooth Syndrome: A Dental Dilemma

Cory W. Bailey, DDS

3 min read

Apr 9



Cracked Tooth Syndrome (CTS) might sound like a dramatic name for a dental issue, but for those who experience it, the discomfort and inconvenience can be very real. It's one of those conditions that can be difficult to diagnose and treat promptly, often leading to prolonged discomfort and potential complications if left unaddressed. Let's delve into what exactly Cracked Tooth Syndrome entails, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and potential treatment options.

What is Cracked Tooth Syndrome?

Cracked Tooth Syndrome refers to a condition where a tooth has a crack or fracture, typically involving the outer layers of enamel and dentin, but sometimes extending into the tooth's pulp (the inner soft tissue containing nerves and blood vessels). The crack may be visible or invisible to the naked eye and may vary in severity.

Symptoms of Cracked Tooth Syndrome:

Identifying Cracked Tooth Syndrome can be tricky because its symptoms can mimic those of other dental issues, such as tooth sensitivity, decay, or gum disease. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  1. Intermittent pain: The pain associated with CTS often comes and goes, which can make it challenging to pinpoint. It might worsen when biting or chewing and then ease off between meals.

  2. Sensitivity to temperature: You might experience heightened sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages, particularly if the crack has reached the tooth's pulp.

  3. Pain upon release of biting pressure: You may feel a sharp, fleeting pain when releasing your bite, indicating that the crack is opening and closing as you chew.

  4. Localized discomfort: The pain is usually focused on the affected tooth and can be triggered by specific actions, such as biting down on hard foods.

Causes of Cracked Tooth Syndrome:

Several factors can contribute to the development of Cracked Tooth Syndrome, including:

  1. Trauma: A sudden blow to the mouth or face, such as a sports injury or accident, can cause a tooth to crack.

  2. Biting on hard objects: Chewing on hard objects like ice, pens, or nuts can exert excessive pressure on the teeth, leading to cracks over time.

  3. Bruxism: Habitual teeth grinding or clenching, often occurring during sleep, can weaken the tooth structure and make it more susceptible to cracking.

  4. Large fillings: Teeth with extensive fillings are more prone to cracking, as the filling material may not provide the same strength as natural tooth structure.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Diagnosing Cracked Tooth Syndrome typically involves a combination of clinical examination, dental history review, and diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, transillumination, or use of a dental dye to highlight the crack.

Treatment options vary depending on the severity and location of the crack but may include:

  1. Dental bonding: For minor cracks, a tooth-colored resin can be applied to the tooth surface to seal the crack and restore its appearance.

  2. Dental crown: A dental crown, or cap, may be recommended for more significant cracks to strengthen and protect the tooth from further damage.

  3. Root canal therapy: If the crack extends into the tooth's pulp, root canal treatment may be necessary to remove the damaged tissue and alleviate pain.

  4. Extraction: In severe cases where the crack is irreparable or the tooth is extensively damaged, extraction may be the only viable option.


While not all cases of Cracked Tooth Syndrome can be prevented, adopting good oral habits can help reduce the risk:

  • Avoid biting on hard objects or using your teeth as tools.

  • Wear a mouthguard during sports or activities where facial injury is possible.

  • Practice stress-reduction techniques to minimize teeth grinding and clenching.

  • Maintain regular dental check-ups for early detection and treatment of any dental issues.

In conclusion, Cracked Tooth Syndrome is a dental condition that can cause significant discomfort and compromise oral health if left untreated. If you experience any symptoms suggestive of CTS, it's essential to seek prompt evaluation by a dentist to determine the appropriate course of action. With timely diagnosis and intervention, most cases of Cracked Tooth Syndrome can be effectively managed, preserving both the tooth and your overall oral well-being.

Cory W. Bailey, DDS

3 min read

Apr 9



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