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Dental Pain and Cracked Teeth

When we talk about a cracked tooth it may sound as though we’re referring to a tooth that has broken – or a piece has fractured off.  But a cracked tooth can look to all intense and purposes normal, and not show any sign of a physical defect.  So how would a patient know they’re dealing with a tooth that is cracked?  Dental pain associated with a cracked tooth is unlike pain that accompanies an infection or recent dental treatment – and as a result, can trigger a tooth to respond to different stimuli.

Can You Bite Down on a Cracked Tooth?

Why cracks and fracture lines are hard to diagnose is because the pain isn’t constant and can be prompted by a range of stimuli – or nothing at all.  What’s interesting is that biting down on a tooth that is cracked may feel just fine – it’s the release of pressure that brings about sudden, intense pain.  This may sound counterintuitive but the reason for the pain to strike when biting pressure is released is due to the crack closing sharply.  Biting in to something hard can also cause a tooth to sing-out in discomfort – as when the microscopic crack opens the pulp or nerve of the tooth becomes incredibly sensitive and almost hyper-reactive to pressure and temperatures.  

Why Would a Tooth React To Temperature?

There are obviously many reasons why a tooth reacts to really hot or really cold temperatures.  Clenching and grinding of teeth wears enamel and makes teeth super sensitive to temperature and sweets.  But if you’re not a grinder and don’t have areas of gum recession that exposes vulnerable dentin – why would a tooth react to temperature?  If your dentist has ruled out the presence of dental decay and infection then exploring the possibility of a cracked tooth may be needed.  Under the protective layers of enamel and dentin is the soft tissue of pulp which is the life force of a tooth due to its abundance of blood vessels and nerves.   When the hard, outer layer of a tooth cracks the tooth is no longer a single solid unit – and will start to move separately due to cracked tissue.  This movement of parts results in the nerve of the tooth becoming irritated – and all the nerves means that different temperatures are felt at a heightened level.

When tooth pain doesn’t go away it’s time to talk to your Calgary Dentist about potential issues.  A cracked tooth can sometimes be saved – so don’t delay too long before seeking a diagnosis.

Need help with dental pain – not sure why your teeth ache?  Contact the team at Apple Dental Group today 403.640.4000