Cracked teeth are notoriously painful and difficult to diagnose. They typically present as an ache when releasing your jaw from biting on something hard. The pressure of opening and closing the crack puts stress on the cells deep within the teeth and creates this painful sensation. You may also experience increased sensitivity to cold or a strange pushing or pinching sensation in your gums.
If you think you have a cracked tooth, your first step is to schedule an emergency dental appointment. Here, X-rays, special lights and probes are used to identify the fracture and determine where it goes. Most often it is impossible to see the actual depth of the crack and the teeth must be treated based on their symptoms. Lowering the height of the tooth (so that the opposing tooth no longer puts pressure on it) is a typical first step. From there, a dentist may use a crown to provide extra coverage to the tooth or refer to an endodontist to take a CT scan or perform a root canal.
If the crack goes down the length of the root and extends to one of the canals, the tooth is likely not savable. In these instances, we usually suggest an extraction to relieve pain and to prepare for an implant in the near future. For more information on emergency appointments, cracked teeth and dental pain, please give our office a call!