The expression “cracked tooth syndrome” is misleading, as it’s not quite a syndrome. Rather, it’s a common set of symptoms that can appear alongside a crack in the tooth.

Cracked teeth and their health complications always require an evaluation and treatment from a dentist. The treatment prescribed depends on the type of crack, the location of the tooth in your mouth and the extent of the crack. The sooner you see a dentist, the better the outcome.

Learn the symptoms that make up this syndrome, when a fractured tooth is a sign of a dental emergency, and when to visit an emergency dentist.

What Is Cracked Tooth Syndrome?

Cracked tooth syndrome is a condition in which a tooth fractures vertically, horizontally, or at an angle. Cracks can range from small fissures on the surface to large fractures that reach the pulp or the core of your tooth; they may or may not be visible. Some people experience additional symptoms, like pain or swelling.

Earlier, cracked tooth syndrome was defined as an incomplete fracture of a vital posterior tooth that involves the dentine and often times extends to the pup. Incomplete fractured posterior teeth can be a great source of discomfort for the patient.

Teeth can crack for a variety of reasons. The most common causes are chewing on hard foods, clenching and grinding the teeth, or impact or trauma to the teeth. People with amalgam (or metal) fillings may have a slightly higher risk of cracked teeth, as metal fillings require the removal of healthy tooth enamel and do not bond to teeth the way other kinds of fillings do.

Because a cracked tooth shares symptoms with several other dental conditions, and the crack can be tiny and potentially located deep within the tooth, the condition can be challenging to diagnose. However, even a minor fracture can become a severe dental emergency if left untreated.

emergency dental cracks albany

Types of Tooth Cracks

Teeth can crack in various ways, some being more serious than others. Some cracks are superficial, while others are considered a dental emergency and need immediate treatment. Dentists usually classify a cracked tooth as one of five types: craze lines, vertical root fractures, fractured cusps, cracked teeth, and split teeth.

1. Craze Lines

Craze lines are minor cracks in the tooth’s surface enamel that result in fine translucent, yellow, brown, or grey lines on the tooth. Because these cracks tend to be limited to the surface enamel and don’t extend into the pulp, most people with craze lines do not experience pain and only notice them in the mirror when brushing or flossing.

While cracks in the teeth cause craze lines, they usually aren’t considered a sign of cracked tooth syndrome. The cracks are almost always superficial, so they are unlikely to lead to further damage and are typically not a cause for concern.

2. Fractured Cusp

Sometimes the chewing surface of a tooth can break off, causing a fractured cusp. You may feel little or no pain or discomfort with this tooth fracture, as the breakage is usually limited to the enamel and doesn’t extend to the pulp.

However, you should always contact your dentist as soon as possible, as a lack of pain does not mean the damage isn’t serious.

3. Cracked Tooth

When a tooth crack partway but does not break into two pieces, dentists typically categorise it as a cracked tooth. The crack is often located in the centre of the tooth. Depending on how deep the crack runs, it can range from a minor concern to a dental emergency, but even minor cracks must be treated to prevent the tooth from splitting.

4. Split Tooth

Without treatment, a cracked tooth can split into two separate pieces, which dentists call a split tooth. The tooth may not be visibly separate, but it often splits from the centre of the tooth to below the gumline.

5. Vertical Root Fracture

If the crack or fracture in your tooth is located within the root and extends upwards to the crown, this is known as a vertical root fracture. Since vertical root fractures are below the gum line, they can be challenging to identify without the help of a dentist.

Symptoms of Cracked Tooth Syndrome

Since all tooth cracks are different, some people may not even realise they have a cracked tooth. Others experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Common symptoms of cracked tooth syndrome include:


    • Strange feeling when biting down, like your bite is misaligned

    • Discomfort or pain when chewing or releasing biting pressure

    • Toothache

    • Sensitivity to hot or cold food or drinks

    • Swelling, redness, or bleeding in the gums

When is a Cracked Tooth a Dental Emergency?

While some kinds of tooth cracks are little cause for concern, others are dental emergencies that can lead to serious dental damage or affect your overall health. In these cases, it’s essential to see an emergency dentist for immediate treatment. You can look for an emergency dental clinic, but many dentists, including Amity Dental Centre, maintain enough room in the daily schedule for an emergency appointment.

Certain symptoms, whether from a cracked tooth or another dental issue, always need prompt medical care. Contact an emergency dentist if you:


    • Feel tooth pain, whether consistent or intermittent

    • Experience swelling, tenderness, or bleeding in your gum or mouth

    • Notice signs of infection in your gums, like redness, swelling, or abscesses

How to Treat Cracked Tooth Syndrome

As cracked tooth syndrome often worsens with time, it’s important to see an emergency dentist as soon as possible if you suspect damage to your tooth. While the diagnosis of cracked tooth syndrome CTS can be difficult even for a dentist to identify in some cases, they can perform procedures that will help them identify a cracked tooth, including checking your dental history, X-rays, digital imaging, and certain tests designed to identify fractures.

If your dentist determines that you are experiencing cracked tooth syndrome, they will likely recommend further treatment to prevent the crack from spreading. Whether the damage is minor or a dental emergency, the Australian Dental Association recommends four types of cracked tooth treatments: bonding or fillings, crowns, root canals, or tooth extraction.

1. Dental Bonding or Fillings

Dental bonding or fillings may be sufficient to patch up minor cracks where most of the tooth is still intact. Bondings or fillings are typically used for fractured cusps, although bonding can be used cosmetically to mask the appearance of craze lines.

Your dentist will assess the damage to your tooth and then fill the open space with a material of appropriate strength. At Amity Dental Centre, we use composite resin or porcelain that matches the colour of your natural teeth. While your tooth may be more sensitive in a week or two following the procedure, it should soon return to normal.

2. Dental Crown

When a significant amount of the tooth has cracked, as is common in cusp fractures and cracked teeth, your dentist may choose to apply a dental crown.


A crown is a custom-made dental cap made of porcelain or ceramic that’s fitted over your tooth and holds it together to stop or slow further damage.

Sometimes it’s unclear whether a crown is needed. In these cases, your dentist may use a temporary crown instead and monitor the tooth over time. If your tooth continues to deteriorate, your dentist will remove the temporary crown and take dental impressions to send to the dental lab to fabricate a permanent porcelain crown.

When the crown is ready, your dentist will cement the crown in place with permanent dental cement.

3. Root Canal

Regardless of the type of crack, if a cracked tooth has exposed or infected pulp, it will require a root canal to prevent the spread of infection. During a root canal, your dentist uses endodontic files to clean the pulp from your tooth, then fills up the hollow interior with gutta-percha (a plasticky yet permanent substance). Once the tooth has been filled, it will be covered with a filling and capped with a crown.

4. Tooth Extraction

Cracks that extend past the gum line often cause damage to the nerve in your tooth. If the crack in your tooth travels past the gum line, the tooth will need to be removed to prevent later oral and physical health issues. As this typically requires a surgical procedure, you will either receive local anaesthesia so that you don’t feel the removal of the tooth or general anaesthesia so that you are asleep during the procedure.

Once your tooth is removed, it will need to be replaced to prevent the breakdown of your jawbone and gums. Dental implants are a common, long-lasting option that holds a replacement tooth in place while preventing your jawbone from thinning.

An implant consists of a screw-like metal post embedded in the jawbone and topped with a connector and a dental crown. They have a high success rate, look and function like your natural teeth and can last for decades. Find further details.

Repair a Cracked Tooth at Amity Dental Centre

Whether you suspect a crack in your tooth or need an emergency dentist to fix a broken tooth, Amity Dental Centre can help restore your smile. We provide a variety of treatments for cracked or damaged teeth to the community in Albany, Western Australia, as well as routine preventative care.

No matter what kind of tooth damage you’re experiencing, it’s our goal to relieve your pain and repair your smile.

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


Cracked teeth.

Cracked teeth.

Cracked tooth syndrome: an overview of the literature.

Cracked tooth syndrome: an overview of the literature.

Tooth fillings.

Dental fillings.

Cracked teeth.

Root canal treatment.

Tooth extraction.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This