What Are The Common Cracked Tooth Symptoms?

Having introduced the problem, and looked at the causes of cracked teeth on the previous page, we now turn our attention to the possible symptoms that can result. We also look at diagnosis (and why this can be tricky!).


The Common Symptoms

How can you tell if one of your teeth has developed a crack? The symptoms can range from the obvious (e.g. a piece breaks off) to other problems (some of which are much more subtle) such as:

  • Pain on biting down. This can happen every time you chew on the tooth or the symptoms may come and go. You may find it only occurs when you chew down in a certain way or eat certain types of food. These are typical symptoms of cracked tooth syndrome. Cracked tooth pain can range from mild to severe.
  • The area may be sensitive to cold or, less often, to heat and sweet foods/drinks.
  • The crack may lead to the nerve inside the pulp dying off. This may be accompanied with severe toothache. This may then develop into an abscess (infection). Abscesses on cracked teeth often form lumps fairly high on the gum.
Image of a woman suffering with toothache

Pain on biting down is a common cracked tooth symptom

You may experience some of these symptoms before a piece breaks off. This fracturing may then actually give some relief from the symptoms.

However if this does not happen, the problem can continue on for months. It can be a difficult problem for a dentist to diagnose, especially as cracks usually do not show up on X-rays.


The problem may also arise soon after dental treatment. Here are a few common scenarios:

  • A cavity will weaken a tooth. If this is filled, the tooth is then at risk of fracture. This is common after large fillings are placed.
  • Similarly, pain after root canal may point to a break. Teeth (in particular molars and premolars) are weak and prone to fracture after root canal.
  • A difficult tooth extraction, e.g. wisdom teeth surgery, can put neighbouring teeth at risk of fracture.


The Diagnosis of Dental Fractures

As mentioned above , unless there is an obvious piece of the missing, or a crack is obvious on the outer surface, a cracked tooth can be difficult for a dentist to find.

"Image of dental mirror and check-up"

Diagnosing a fracture can be difficult

Dental x-rays will not show up the majority of cracks in teeth, unless the tooth has become split (split tooth symptoms result in a much easier diagnosis).

The dentist will examine around the area searching for any signs of cracks. They may use a probe (i.e. a little metal point) to help feel for any cracks or loose fillings. The dentist can also use bright lights, shone on the teeth and/or special dyes to help make a crack more obvious. A special tool may be used to find what part of the tooth is tender when you bite down. The part that is tender is most likely the part that is cracked.

Very often it will be necessary to remove any filling or crown, if present, to properly identify if a crack is present. Cracks under a crown or filling are often very obvious only once either has been removed, allowing the dentist to inspect underneath.



There are a few main cracked tooth symptoms, which can include severe pain. The symptoms can range from extremely obvious (a piece breaks off) to the more subtle and difficult to diagnosis (e.g. a hairline crack under a filling). So, as you have read, diagnosis of the problem is not always easy.

Continue to cracked tooth treatment or go back to main article.

One comment

  1. It hit me one night, I had severe pain when I was eating. I had pain and sensitivity before, but it never lasted and wasn’t so severe. But this time was different, the pain was severe, and got worse as the night went on. Nothing worked, pain pills with naproxen, orajel, salt water rinse. I could not sleep, kept going in the kitchen and gargling with warm salt water. I finally took a washcloth, and held it against the tooth, which covered the nerves, and applied pressure, it worked, and I was able to sleep, best I could with a rag held in my mouth. In the morning, first thing, called dentist, for a morning appt. They said how fast can you get here, I said give me 15 minutes. I got there, had to wait about 30 minutes, got in, dentist took the whole tooth out, Bam, all gone. Gave me antibiotics, instructions to only eat soft foods, eat on left side of mouth away from extraction, no drinking from a straw, no solid foods, for 3 days. They also gave me some good codeine pain pills vicodin. The pain was gone, I was able to sleep that night. All I had was soreness in my jaw and ear. It is now 8 days out, and no pain, eating solid foods, and feel a hell of a lot better.

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