5 Signs That You Cracked a Tooth


A cracked tooth might not seem like a big problem, particularly if the crack is in a less visible location and doesn’t result in a chipped tooth. However, left untreated, a cracked tooth can lead to much more serious complications.

Recognising the signs of a cracked tooth is crucial for seeking timely dental care. In this article, we will explore five common signs that may indicate you've cracked a tooth and discuss why prompt attention is essential.

If you notice any of the following signs following a hit to the face or jaw, always book an appointment with your dentist. Remember that the crack might not be visible when you smile and it could be below the gum line. A cracked root can be very painful if left untreated.

Here are the top 5 signs that you have cracked a tooth:

1. Sharp pain when chewing

One of the primary indicators of a cracked tooth is experiencing sharp or intense pain while chewing. The pressure exerted on the cracked tooth during biting or chewing can cause discomfort, and the pain may vary in intensity depending on the extent of the crack. If you notice persistent pain while eating, it's important to consult with a dentist to assess the situation.

2. Increased sensitivity to hot and cold

A cracked tooth can make the tooth more sensitive to temperature changes. If you find yourself wincing when consuming hot or cold foods or beverages, it could be a sign of a crack. The exposure of the tooth's nerves due to the crack can lead to heightened sensitivity. Ignoring this symptom may exacerbate the issue over time. Increased sensitivity is usually a sign that something is amiss, so don’t ignore this common symptom.

3. Swollen gums around the affected tooth

In some cases, a cracked tooth may cause irritation to the surrounding gums, leading to swelling and tenderness. Swollen gums can be a sign that the crack has progressed to the point where it is affecting the surrounding tissues. If you notice redness or swelling around a specific tooth, it's crucial to seek dental evaluation promptly. Swelling that extends to your cheek and jaw should be treated as an emergency as this is a sign that you have a dental abscess.

4. Discomfort when releasing bite pressure

Apart from pain during chewing, discomfort when releasing bite pressure is another potential sign of a cracked tooth. If you feel a twinge or ache when releasing pressure after biting down, it could indicate a crack that needs attention. This discomfort might not be as noticeable initially but could worsen without intervention.

5. Change in tooth colour

A cracked tooth may also lead to changes in the tooth's colour. The crack can allow bacteria to penetrate the inner layers of the tooth, leading to discolouration. If you observe a darkening or change in the colour of a specific tooth, it is advisable to consult with a dentist to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.

Why it’s important to act quickly

Ignoring the signs of a cracked tooth can have serious consequences. If left untreated, a cracked tooth may allow bacteria into the sensitive pulp of the tooth. This could lead to infections, abscesses, or even tooth loss. Timely intervention can often prevent the need for more extensive and costly dental procedures.

You might not be able to see the crack, so it’s important to visit the dentist regularly for checkups to monitor for dental issues. An X-ray can help to reveal issues with your teeth that are not visible to the eye. A small crack or chip might not bother you at first, but you should assume that this issue will only get worse.

What can be done for a cracked tooth?

The most common method for protecting a cracked tooth from further decay is to protect it with a crown. The crown will provide additional strength to prevent the crack from getting worse and breaking apart. The crown will also seal the crack and prevent bacteria from entering the tooth.

If you didn’t notice the crack and it has already become infected, you may need a root canal treatment to remove the infected pulp. The tooth will then be topped with a crown to protect it from reinfection. In rare cases, extraction and replacement with a bridge, denture or dental implant may be recommended.

Closing thoughts

Recognising the signs of a cracked tooth is key to maintaining oral health. If you experience any of the mentioned symptoms, it's important to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help preserve the affected tooth and prevent further complications, ensuring a healthy and pain-free smile. Regular dental check-ups also play a crucial role in detecting and addressing dental issues before they escalate.

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