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A member asked:

what does cracked tooth syndrome feel like? i occasionally have a sharp, shooting pain in one of my right rear molars when i chew. i've looked, and don't see anything that looks like a crack, and don't remember ever hearing or feeling a tooth crack.

4 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Theodore Davantzis
Dentistry 40 years experience
You : You may not be able to see the crack if there is one. Sometimes it is a hairline and will show up with the light reflected in just a certain way. Does the tooth have a filling? Has it been checked out by a dentist? Maybe it has a cavity that you can't see. Cracked tooth syndrome is usually used in the dental community when we check a tooth out very thoroughly, with a radiograph, and can't find anything wrong with it that we can see. When everything else turns up negative, we assume that there may be a crack, and that is how it is explained to the patient.
Dr. Jason Muck
Dentistry 28 years experience
Cracked : Cracked tooth syndrome can manifest itself, as aforementioned, by intermittent sharp pain when the right (or wrong) amount of pressure is applied to the right (or wrong again) angle of the tooth in question. It is not uncommon for the crack to be invisible to the naked eye and even an radiograph. The dentist can attempt to determine if there is a fracture. Typically a visual inspection with refracting light through the tooth may show the fracture. A radiograph is taken, however, this typically will only give insight to the supporting bone structure and indicate if there is any bone loss due to tooth fracture or infection. If the crack extends through the root, bone loss may occur in that area. Moreover, if the crack extends in to the nerve, it may result in an abscess and concurrent bone loss at the tip of the root. Also, the dentist may tap on the tooth, or have you bite onto a cotton roll or bite stick, to determine which tooth and which part of that tooth is most sensitive. Sometimes, it may feel as if you, the patient, know exactly which tooth is causing the pain; however, it may be originating from an adjacent tooth. We are not trying to cause any additional discomfort by tapping or having the patient bite on that tooth. We are only trying to reproduce the symptoms in order to assure treatment of the problem tooth. After it is determined if it is a cracked tooth, treatment typically may involve replacing an existing filling, fabricating a temporary crown in order to hold the fractured pieces together, and or root canal therapy, and in some cases extraction.
Dr. Alan Zweig
Dentistry 45 years experience
One : One of the symptoms of cracked tooth syndrome is pain every once in a while when you bite on the affected tooth. It might be all the time, but not necessarily. You have to bite on the tooth at just the right angle for the sections of the crack to open. If you have constant pain, or pain every time you bite down you may have an endodontic (nerve) problem.
Dr. Scott Bobbitt
Dentistry 32 years experience
Most bizarre: Unfortuantely, cts is one of the most bizarre things we deal with--and very difficult to diagnose accurately. Most will never "feel" the event that cracked it--as it can occur during sleep when clenched--usually on a tooth with old silver filling or large cavity. Pain to biting pressure (sometimes) , non-lingering pain to hot and cold temp changes are typical. Best results if treated early!

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Last updated Oct 4, 2016
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