How do I know if I have a cracked tooth? What should I do?

If you bite down feeling a sharp, sudden pain in your mouth that goes away as quickly as you reopen your mouth, you could be experiencing the symptoms of a cracked tooth. Until you see a dentist, avoid eating hard foods, and chew on the opposite side of your mouth to prevent aggravating the cracked tooth.

A cracked tooth happens from a number of reasons, including:

  • Biting on a hard objects such as hard candy, ice, nuts or even a carrot
  • Grinding or clenching teeth (especially when sleeping)
  • A severe hit to the mouth that impacts one of your teeth
  • Exposing the tooth to sudden temperature swings—i.e. immediately going from a hot to a cold drink
  • Stress or brittleness of the tooth from an earlier treatment such as a root canal

Spotting the crack on the tooth can be challenging as some hairline fractures are too small to be seen by the eye or even by an x-ray. By asking the right questions and probing, your dentist should be able to determine if and where you have a cracked tooth. Depending on the size or location of the crack, the dentist can treat it with a special bonding. If it appears the cracked tooth has caused the inner pulp to become infected, a root canal may be necessary.