Dentists use the term Cracked Tooth Syndrome or CTS for cracks that are difficult to diagnose using conventional methods. About 80% of people over 40 have cracked teeth. Yet, not all of them suffer from the mysterious cracked teeth syndrome.

Will CTS make you lose your teeth? If you find the root of your problem early enough, you have good chances of keeping your smile. Continue reading this article to understand CTS and your treatment options.

Causes of cracked tooth syndrome

Any excessive pressure on your tooth can lead to a tooth fracture. The forces, impact frequency and the original condition of the tooth determine the type of cracks it develops. Sometimes there is not one large catastrophic damage, but several hidden cracks.

The most obvious causes of broken teeth syndrome are facial and jaw injuries and biting on hard foods. Also, if you tend to grind and clench your teeth at night , there is a good chance that you will develop this condition. Eating hot or cold foods and drinks at the same time also causes fractures.

Uneven teeth or an improper bite alignment create abnormal pressure on certain teeth. It causes them to crack. Tongue piercings are also common culprits for CTS. Patients with root canal treatment or large dental fillings are more prone to develop cracks on the teeth too.

Symptoms of cracked teeth syndrome

One of the most common signs of cracked teeth syndrome is its sensitivity. Intermittent severe pain is also common. The sensations may be similar to those you experience with tooth decay.

CTS rarely causes extreme pain. This symptom may come in with deep cracks that reach the pulp tissue.

Sometimes a tooth abscess can develop if the cracks reach below the gum line. This happens when bacteria get trapped between your tooth and the gum tissue.

How is CTS diagnosed?

It is quite difficult to diagnose CTS using traditional methods. Your dentist may combine several examination methods to get better results. These include a visual examination and a surface examination. The latter involves the use of a sharp instrument called a dental explorer. Staining is a procedure to make your cracks visible.

Sometimes an x-ray can help with diagnosis, although it may not detect small cracks. Radiography, an x-ray procedure, only detects between 25% and 34% of fracture lines.

Note that a dental specialist may need to remove a crown or filling for a more thorough diagnosis.

Which tooth most often exhibits cracked tooth syndrome?

Molars, or lower molars, are the most susceptible to cracked teeth syndrome. According to statistics, the risk for molars is twice as high as for CTS and four times as high as for incisors.

Molar teeth are the most vulnerable teeth because they have to withstand the most pressure. Many people also have problems with maintaining proper hygiene of these teeth because they are so close together. This makes the molars more susceptible to enamel decay, which in turn makes the teeth more vulnerable. Any invasive treatment weakens them even more.

Can a CT scan detect a cracked tooth?

The cone beam examination CT is much more powerful than traditional X-ray examination. Depending on the type of cracks, it can detect up to 70% of such damage. Still, some of them may remain undetected.

Modern dentistry is looking for more techniques for CTS detection. Some of the promising methods include swept-source optical coherence tomography or SS-OCT, and near-infrared imaging.

Treatment of cracked teeth syndrome

Bonding with a composite material is suitable for a tooth with superficial cracks.

Deeper cracks require more intrusive treatment options. Root canal treatment, for example, removes the pulp with the infected nerves and blood vessels and protects the structure of your tooth. Even if you have not yet developed a tooth infection, this type of treatment is helpful for advanced injuries. If your doctor manages to save part of the tooth, you will need a dental crown to protect it properly.

If the damage is too extensive, you will not be able to save your natural tooth . Tooth extraction and placement of an implant may be a solution in such a case.

What problems can the cracked teeth syndrome cause?

Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures is the first problem that can occur. The consequence of cracked teeth is the gradual development of extensive tooth decay. This, in turn, leads to sharp pain and extreme tissue damage. Eventually, you will have to deal with a broken tooth. It is also important to find the cause of your CTS. If you suffer from bruxism or misaligned teeth, you will also need to treat these conditions to reduce pressure on other teeth. Avoid the habit of biting on hard foods.

Is cracked teeth syndrome painful?

In most cases, CTS is painful. However, the degree of pain can vary: You may suffer from occasional symptoms of tooth sensitivity or develop constant pain in your teeth and gums. Your sensations will depend on the severity and location of the cracks.

References

  1. Cracked tooth diagnosis and treatment: An alternative paradigm - Pubmed
  2. The cracked-tooth syndrome: clinical features and case reports - Pubmed
  3. The cracked tooth syndrome: additional findings - Pubmed
  4. Incidence of Pulpal Complications after Diagnosis of Vital Cracked Teeth - Pubmed
  5. Dental Vertical Root Fractures: Value of CT in Detection - RSNA