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Cracked Tooth

Cracked Tooth

A crack in a tooth may appear as a tiny hairline fracture, usually running from the top to the bottom of the tooth. Sometimes these cracks are invisible to the naked eye and often do not show up on X-rays. It may be hard to tell which tooth hurts or whether the pain is coming from a top or bottom tooth.

Suspect a crack if:

  • You feel sharp pain when you bite down or chew.
  • You can't eat certain foods or can only chew on one side of your mouth.
  • Your tooth is very sensitive to hot or cold.

A cracked tooth may be caused by a mouth injury or loss of tooth structure from a large area of decay (cavity) or filling. Chewing on hard objects—such as nuts, hard candy, or foreign objects in food—or temperature extremes, such as when you eat hot foods and then chew on ice cubes, can also cause a cracked tooth. Other causes of a cracked tooth include teeth grinding or uneven chewing pressures.

Deep cracks can cause inflammation, infection, or death of the tooth. Prompt dental care may prevent these problems.

By Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
David Messenger, MD
Last Revised July 20, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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