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Cracked Teeth 

Cracked teeth can result from grinding or clenching your teeth and chewing on hard objects, such as ice or hard candy.  Cracked teeth may cause on again, off again pain and temperature sensitivity.  You should contact your dentist as soon as you experience the symptoms of a cracked tooth.  Early diagnosis and treatment is associated with the best treatment options.  An untreated cracked tooth only gets worse and eventually leads to tooth loss.
You tooth has two hard outer protective layers, the enamel and dentin.  Beneath the dentin is pulp.  Tooth pulp is soft.  It contains blood vessels and nerves.  A cracked tooth has a crack that extends from the tooth’s chewing surface to the root.  The tooth does not separate in to two different pieces.  However, because of the position of the crack, the pulp may be damaged.

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Your tooth may hurt, especially while chewing.  You may feel a momentary sharp pain when you chew.  Your tooth may be sensitive to hot or cold temperatures.  Eventually, a cracked tooth may hurt all of the time.

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You should contact your dentist as soon as you suspect that you have a cracked tooth to ensure the best treatment results.  Your dentist will examine your teeth to diagnose a cracked tooth.  A harmless dye may be placed on your tooth to highlight the crack.  Your dentist may shine a light on your tooth.  In a healthy tooth, the light will pass through the tooth.  In a cracked tooth, the light will stop at the crack and not pass through the entire tooth.

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A crown will be placed on your tooth to restore stability and protect the tooth.  If the pulp of your cracked tooth is affected, your tooth may need a root canal treatment.  Cracked teeth need to be treated to prevent tooth loss.  If the crack extends below your gum line, you may need to have your tooth removed.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit