Continue reading for a thorough breakdown of cracked tooth syndrome, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
What Is Cracked Tooth Syndrome?
Cracked tooth syndrome (CTS) may sound quite serious, but the reality is that it is simply a term used to recognize an incomplete fracture or site of trauma on a tooth that has not yet completely broken or split off. In most cases, cracked tooth syndrome occurs in posterior (back) teeth, and the fracture usually has yet to progress to the pulp of the tooth, usually occurring in the dentin layer of the tooth. The dentin is the layer directly below the tooth’s outside layer of enamel. The pulp is the inner layer of the tooth which is made up of connective tissues. When damage reaches the pulp, the individual will likely experience sharp pains due to the connective tissues becoming inflamed and experiencing swelling. Below are some symptoms of cracked tooth syndrome:
Reaching A Diagnosis
Because the symptoms of cracked tooth syndrome can be so sporadic and unpredictable, it can be quite difficult for the individual to decide when it is time to see a dentist, or even to pinpoint the tooth that is experiencing symptoms. When the patient does come in for an explanation of their symptoms, the dentist will have x-rays taken of the teeth in the area of concern. In many cases of CTS, it has been observed that the fracture may not even show up on an x-ray. The dentist will then conduct a thorough oral examination. They will have the patient bite down on something; this will sometimes allow the dentist to see the fracture line moving just a bit as it flexes under pressure. They will then take a dental instrument called an explorer, which will allow them to feel the surfaces of the tooth for any signs of irregularities. Some dentists will use a temporary dye which will allow the fracture to be more easily detected.
Cracked tooth syndrome is relatively random, and the severity, prognosis, and treatment options are all dependent on the individual case at hand. The location, size, and severity of the fracture will determine how the dentist will go about treatment. In less serious cases, the tooth can usually be saved by a protective cap known as a crown. If the fracture has reached the sensitive pulp of the tooth, it is very possible that the tooth will need a root canal, and then in most cases, a crown as well. For teeth that have been very seriously or irreparably fractured, the dentist may recommend that the tooth is extracted.
If you are experiencing sporadic or unpredictable pain in a specific tooth or general area of your mouth, do not hesitate to contact us at Willow Glen Dental Specialists (WGDS). The sooner you are able to have the tooth examined, the better chance you have of undergoing successful treatment in order to save the tooth.