Cracked Tooth: A Common Dental Emergency 

Sudden onset of tooth pain while biting or chewing your food is not normal. Increased sensitivity to cold and hot foods can have an underlying cause. Your tooth/teeth might be suffering from a crack! Let’s find out what a cracked tooth means.

The dentist in Upland, CA, will help you better understand a cracked tooth, its etiology, symptoms, and the effective ways to manage the pain and discomfort.

Understanding a cracked tooth

A cracked tooth is a common dental condition characterized by an abnormal split or fissure in your tooth. The crack can either be small and harmless or can be severe enough to separate the affected tooth.  Most often, the cracks are not visible and can only be detected through dental radiographs.

The etiology behind a cracked tooth include: 

  • Normal aging process
  • Bruxism (abnormal grinding or clenching of teeth)
  • Large restorations
  • Abrupt temperature changes
  • Chewing hard foods
  • Physical injury or trauma

Clinical manifestations of a cracked tooth

A cracked tooth can be associated with the following signs and symptoms:

  • Unexplained persistent pain, especially while chewing
  • Pain tends to come and go intermittently 
  • Swollen gums around the cracked tooth
  • Extreme tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods
  • Sudden tooth sensitivity to sweetness
  • Difficulty pinpointing the exact location of the pain

Different types of cracks

Different types of cracks include:

Oblique supragingival crack: It affects only the tooth crown and is present above the gum line (supragingival).

Oblique subgingival crack: It may extend beyond the gum line (subgingivally) to a point where the jawbone begins.

Vertical furcation crack: It occurs when the roots of the tooth are involved, affecting the nerves.

Oblique root crack: This does not involve the tooth crown but is apparent only below the gum line and the jawbone.

Vertical apical root crack: It appears at the root tip (apex of the root).

Effective management of a cracked tooth

A cracked tooth is not always easy to diagnose and may require a magnifying glass and dental radiographs to examine the oral cavity. 

Treatment includes:


  • Home remedies
    • Rinse the mouth with warm water
    • Take painkillers to ease pain 
    • Use a cold compress to manage swelling


  • Dental treatment 
    • Repairing the crack through bonding using a plastic resin
    • Using a filling
    • Performing root canal treatment and restoring the tooth with a crown

However, if the crack is too severe, your dentist will eventually recommend extraction. 


A cracked tooth is easy to detect and treat, provided it is done at an early stage. If left untreated, it can be debilitating and greatly compromise your oral function and aesthetics. 

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Chiara Brunner