A fractured tooth can occur for various reasons, including teeth grinding, trauma, and age. While tooth fracture symptoms can be difficult to determine, knowing what to look for can help you deal with this dental emergency. Fortunately, dentists have many methods to treat a fracture, depending on its severity and location. 

Tooth fractures vary in size. A small crack or chip may not be visible and doesn’t always cause pain. When your tongue feels a jagged edge, you know you have a cracked or fractured tooth. On the contrary, large cracks can be painful, and there may be nerve damage. The tooth nerves are likely exposed if you feel a sharp pain when chewing food. 

If you suspect you have a fractured tooth, you should call an emergency dentist for a same-day appointment. Early detection and treatment will improve your tooth’s condition and increase the chances of its survival. Let’s take an in-depth look at this dental emergency, so you know what to expect. 


How to know if your tooth is fractured?

Most chips and cracks result from oral injuries. However, tooth fracture symptoms vary and can be hard to identify. Symptoms of a fractured tooth can include sensitivity when eating sweets or consuming cold drinks, pain when chewing food, and swelling around the gum area surrounding the affected tooth. If you become aware of these symptoms but there is no sign of tooth decay, you may have a fractured tooth. Calling an emergency dentist is vital, as leaving the tooth untreated could cause more damage and pain. 



There are various types of tooth fractures to be aware of, each with its own symptoms:

  • Vertical root fracture This type of crack starts below the gum line and extends upward. Symptoms often don’t present unless the tooth is infected. In some cases, extraction may be necessary.
  • Craze lines This refers to tiny cracks on the tooth enamel. Typically they cause no pain or discomfort, and no treatment is necessary.
  • Rift tooth This describes a crack in the tooth that extends from the surface down to the gum line, typically breaking the tooth in half. While a dentist can save part of the tooth, it may not be possible to keep it in its entirety 
  • Cracked cusp This crack tends to form around a tooth filling. It may not harm the tooth’s pulp, and it may not cause any pain. However, you should visit your dentist in case the filling has been damaged. 
  • Extensive tooth fracture This has reached the gum line or is close. A dentist can save the tooth if the crack has not reached the gum line; otherwise, tooth extraction is the only option. Early detection and treatment are crucial to save a tooth with this type of crack.


What causes a fractured tooth?

There are numerous reasons for a tooth to crack. These include:

  • Bruxism (teeth grinding) that creates pressure 
  • Age – teeth cracks are more prevalent in people aged between 50-59 years 
  • Biting into hard food such as ice, candies and nuts
  • A large tooth filling that has weakened the tooth’s integrity
  • Impact to the mouth from a sports injury, fall, or car accident
  • Sharp change of temperature in the mouth, i.e. eating hot food followed by drinking an iced beverage


Tooth fracture symptoms – What to look out for

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of a fractured tooth:

  • Pain when biting or chewing
  • Recurring or intermittent pain
  • Gum swelling around the affected tooth area
  • Sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet food and drink


Complications of a fractured tooth

Problems occur at the onset of an infection. When left untreated, the infection can spread to the gums, bones, and other areas of the body leading to a dental emergency. The signs of an infection or tooth abscess include:

  • Bad breath
  • Fever
  • Swollen gums
  • Cold and heat sensitivity
  • Tender neck glands
  • Discomfort and pain when eating


How is a tooth fracture diagnosed?

Diagnosing tooth cracks is challenging for dental practitioners. If no cracks are visible, the dentist will narrow down the problem by asking you questions. He may examine your teeth for cracks using a magnifying glass. He may also use a pointed instrument (dental explorer) that catches rough edges or cracks on teeth. A dental dye can also make it easier to diagnose a fracture. Finally, an x-ray will be performed to reveal if there is any damage to the tooth’s pulp. Unhealthy pulp can indicate the presence of a fracture. 


How can a tooth fracture be treated?

Treatment for a fractured tooth depends on its location and severity but includes bonding, cosmetic contouring, veneers and crowns. Our dentist will be happy to explain each treatment in more detail and recommend the best one for you. 


When should I seek dental help?

You should contact an emergency dentist immediately if you suspect a tooth fracture. While you wait for a dental emergency appointment, you can ease any discomfort with over-the-counter painkillers, gargle with salt water to reduce infection, and apply a cold compress to the cheek to help the swelling subside.


Do you have a fractured tooth?

If you have any tooth fracture symptoms mentioned above, don’t hesitate to contact Southport Park Family Dental on (07) 5655 7688 for same-day emergency treatment. 





National Library of Medicine: Anatomy, Head and Neck, Pulp (Tooth)

BMC Oral Health – Analysis of the characteristics of cracked teeth and evaluation of pulp status according to periodontal probing depth

PubMed Central: Diagnosis of Cracked Tooth Syndrome



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