Cracked and fractured teeth are common dental problems. As people retain their natural teeth longer (due to advances in dental technology), the likelihood of cracked teeth increases. There are many reasons why teeth may crack, for example, biting on hard objects, trauma, grinding and clenching of teeth. All of these behaviors place the teeth under extra strain and render them more susceptible to cracking.
With incipient cracks, patients may feel no discomfort whatsoever, or perhaps only when biting on a firm object at a very specific angle. With time, and continued chewing on such teeth, these cracks generally get larger, and symptoms will usually become more pronounced. When no pulpal inflammation is present, (no unusual thermal sensitivity and no discomfort to normal biting pressure) a crown may be all that is necessary to stabilize the crack, and restore the tooth to health. As the crack widens and moved down towards the root surface, the prognosis for the tooth starts to become more questionable. Once bacteria are able to invade the pulp through the crack, symptoms will usually get much worse, and root canal treatment becomes necessary in addition to placement of a crown. If the crack is left untreated, and begins to encroach on the root surface, periodontal inflammation will ensue, and at that point, the tooth may no longer be treatable.