When faced with a cracked tooth, many patients immediately fear the worst—extraction. However, the decision to pull a tooth due to a crack depends on various factors, including the type, location, and severity. In this detailed exploration, we will delve into the nature of cracked teeth, the available treatment options, and under what circumstances a tooth might need to be pulled. This information will clarify and help those experiencing this dental dilemma make informed decisions about their oral health.

Understanding Cracked Teeth

Cracked teeth can present a complex challenge in dental care, primarily because the symptoms and visibility of the cracks can vary widely.

A tooth crack might be as minor as a craze line on the enamel surface, which typically does not affect the tooth’s structural integrity, or as severe as a fracture that extends down to the root, potentially compromising the entire tooth. Understanding the type and severity of a crack is crucial as it directly affects the treatment approach and the overall prognosis for the tooth.

The causes of tooth cracks are numerous; they can result from trauma, such as a blow to the face, biting down on hard objects like ice or candies, or even from changes in temperature within the mouth, such as eating hot food followed by drinking cold water.

does a cracked tooth need to be pulled pain parramattaAge also plays a role, as teeth tend to become more brittle and susceptible to cracks over time. Furthermore, habits such as clenching or grinding teeth can contribute significantly to forming cracks due to the excessive forces exerted.

Diagnosing and treating a cracked tooth as early as possible is important to prevent further damage. Symptoms that may indicate a cracked tooth include pain when eating or biting, sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, and occasional discomfort that seems to come and go, making it hard to pinpoint. Because these signs can also be associated with other dental issues, a thorough examination by an appropriately qualified health practitioner is essential.

They may use magnification and special lighting to detect cracks visually or employ dental dye to reveal less obvious fractures. Once identified, an appropriate treatment plan can be developed to restore the tooth’s integrity and functionality.

Types of Cracks

When examining types of cracks in teeth, it’s important to understand the distinctions and potential implications for dental health. Here are the main types:

Craze Lines are tiny cracks that only influence the outer enamel. They are light, cause no pain, and are mostly a cosmetic concern.

Fractured Cusp: This type of crack typically occurs around a dental filling. It usually does not extend into the tooth’s pulp and is thus less likely to cause pain.

Cracked Tooth: This crack extends from the tooth’s chewing surface downwards towards the root. Damage can extend to the pulp, making the tooth sensitive to hot and cold.

Split Tooth: A split tooth is the major outcome of an untreated cracked tooth. It is characterised by a crack with distinct segments that can be separated. This type of crack is severe and often results in tooth loss.

Vertical Root Fracture: These cracks begin in the tooth’s root and extend towards the chewing surface. Often, they are only discovered when the surrounding bone and gum become infected.

Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth

Identifying a cracked tooth early can significantly increase the chance of saving the tooth. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain when chewing or eating, especially when ending the bite
  • Sensitivity to heat, cold, or sweet foods
  • Pain that comes and goes but is rarely continuous
  • Swelling of the gum around the affected tooth
  • Discomfort that fluctuates in intensity

It is important to note that not all cracks are apparent to the naked eye and may not even appear on X-rays. Sometimes, specialised dental tools or techniques are required to diagnose them.



Treatment Options for Cracked Teeth

The treatment for a cracked tooth depends on the intricacy of the fracture. Below are some common interventions:

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding can be an ideal process for small, superficial cracks. A dentist applies a composite resin to the crack, which is then hardened under a special light. This seals the crack and restores the tooth’s appearance and functionality.

Dental Crowns

A dental crown is often recommended for more severe cracks. The crown provides a protective cover made from porcelain or metal, guarding against further damage and restoring the tooth’s shape and functionality.

Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy might be necessary if the crack has extended into the pulp. This procedure involves eliminating the damaged pulp, cleaning the root canal, and sealing it to protect against further damage. A crown is often placed over the tooth to ensure strength and appearance.

Tooth Extraction

Extraction is considered a last resort and is only recommended when a tooth is severely cracked and cannot be saved. The decision to extract also considers the potential impact on surrounding teeth and the overall alignment within the mouth.

When Does a Cracked Tooth Need to Be Pulled?

does a cracked tooth need to be pulled xray parramattaDeciding when a cracked tooth needs to be pulled is a critical determination best made by an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

The decision largely hinges on the severity and location of the crack, as well as the overall health of the tooth and surrounding tissues. Here, we will explore the specific conditions under which extraction becomes necessary, incorporating essential dental health terminology and treatments.

Extensive Cracks that Compromise Tooth Structure

When the structural integrity of a tooth is damaged due to extensive cracking, the ability to effectively restore the tooth diminishes. If a crack extends deep enough to reach beneath the gum line or spreads between the roots, it often renders the tooth non-restorable. These types of cracks can significantly undermine the long-term viability of the tooth, leading to the need for it to be pulled.

Involvement of the Tooth’s Pulp

If a crack extends into the tooth’s pulp, it exposes the innermost part of the tooth to bacteria, potentially leading to infection or pulp death. In such cases, root canal treatment can sometimes save the tooth by eliminating the infected pulp and sealing the tooth.

However, if the tooth’s structure is significantly compromised or if the crack extends below the root canal, the likelihood of successfully saving the tooth decreases, and extraction might be considered to prevent further complications such as gum disease.

Vertical Root Fractures

Vertical root fractures are cracks that begin at the root and move upward. These fractures are particularly troublesome because they often go unnoticed until significant damage has occurred. When symptoms such as pain or infection manifest, the fracture may have already caused extensive damage to the surrounding bone and gum tissues. In many cases, vertical root fractures necessitate the extraction of the affected tooth as the damage is irreparable and can exacerbate conditions like gum disease.

Response to Hot and Cold Temperatures

A tooth that has sustained a crack might exhibit increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, indicating that the nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth may be affected. If this sensitivity persists even after attempts to seal the crack with a dental crown or other conservative treatments, it suggests that the crack is too severe and that the tooth may no longer be viable. In such instances, pulling the tooth may be recommended to reduce pain and prevent further damage.

Broken Tooth Beyond Repair

In scenarios where a tooth is broken—whether due to trauma, decay, or a deep crack—there can be too little remaining tooth structure to support a restoration like a dental crown.

Extraction might be the only viable option when a major portion of a tooth is missing, and restoration efforts would be structurally unsound or cosmetically displeasing. After extraction, replacement options such as dental implants or bridges can be considered to retrieve functionality and aesthetics.

Consequences of Not Extracting a Severely Cracked Tooth

Leaving a severely cracked or broken tooth untreated can lead to several more severe issues, including gum disease around the affected area, worsening of the crack, or even an abscess if the crack allows bacteria to invade and infect the centre of the tooth.

Additionally, an untreated cracked tooth can lead to the loss of the extracted tooth, which can cause a shift in the alignment of surrounding teeth, affecting overall oral health.

Deciding to pull a tooth is never taken lightly. Dental professionals strive to preserve natural teeth whenever feasible. However, when a cracked tooth is beyond repair, extraction is often the most effective way to maintain dental health and alleviate pain. Always consult with an appropriately qualified health practitioner to explore all available options tailored to your specific dental needs.

Preventing Further Damage

While some cracks in the teeth are unavoidable due to accidents or external trauma, many can be prevented with a good dental regime and regular check-ups. Here are a few tips:

Avoiding Harmful Habits

does a cracked tooth need to be pulled symptoms parramattaOne of the simplest yet most effective ways to prevent further damage to a cracked tooth, and to protect other teeth from similar damage, is by avoiding habits that exert undue stress on teeth.

It is crucial to refrain from chewing on hard objects like ice cubes, hard candies, and popcorn kernels, as these can create or worsen existing cracks. Additionally, teeth should not be used as tools to open packaging or bite off non-food items, as these actions can lead to sudden and significant dental injuries.

Using Protective Gear

Employing protective measures during physical activities can greatly reduce the risk of tooth damage. A custom-fitted mouthguard is an essential accessory for anyone engaging in sports, especially contact sports or any activity that might cause a blow to the face or jaw. Mouthguards work by absorbing and distributing the forces that can otherwise crack or chip teeth, providing a safeguard during potentially high-impact moments.

Maintaining Regular Oral Hygiene

A robust oral hygiene routine is foundational in preventing further damage to cracked teeth and maintaining overall dental health. Regular brushing, ideally twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and utilising an antiseptic mouthwash can all contribute to strengthening tooth enamel and minimising the risk of decay.

Decay can weaken teeth, making them more susceptible to cracks. Moreover, attending regular dental check-ups is vital. These visits not only help in early detection and treatment of tooth cracks but also address other issues like gum disease and dental misalignments that could place additional stress on your teeth.


does a cracked tooth need to be pulled symptom parramattaA cracked tooth does not always need to be pulled. With the right treatment, most cracked teeth can be saved. Early detection and treatment are key, significantly increasing the likelihood of preserving the tooth. Regular dental check-ups are crucial in spotting and addressing such issues before they escalate into severe problems.

If you suspect you have a cracked tooth, seeing a dental consultant as soon as possible is essential. Delaying treatment prolongs pain and reduces the chances of saving the tooth.

Do you think you might have a cracked tooth? Don’t wait for the problem to worsen. Contact Parramatta Green Dental today at (02) 9538 7875 to schedule an appointment. Our team of dental professionals is ready to provide you with the care and treatment you need to preserve your smile and oral health.

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.