Cracked Tooth Syndrome can cause your child some mean and mysterious pain. For example, 14-year-old Jacob came into his mother’s kitchen after playing in the hot afternoon sun with his brothers. His mom noticed he did not go straight to the refrigerator and grab his favorite chilled mini-bottle of water. Instead, he ran to the sink and carefully ran a glass of lukewarm water.
As he gulped it down, his Mom could not help but ask him why he didn’t drink his cold water. As she spoke, she also handed him a slice of the apple she was eating. “No big deal, Mom,” he said as he started to bite into the soft, sweet apple slice. But when he began to chew, he winced. And she knew he needed a dental appointment, right away. She looked at his jaw noticed it was not swollen. What did she suspect that you, as a parent might not know about?
A Strangely Difficult Diagnosis with Generalized Symptoms
Previously, she had also had noticed that he had complained of two headaches last week. Tylenol and a nap on the couch seemed to cure them quickly. Let’s look at Jacob’s symptoms. Do you suppose mom’s diagnosis will match the dentist:
- Pain when biting down on food, even soft food,
- Sharp pain with icy water,
- Dental pain that comes and goes.
- Slightly swollen gum around the painful tooth.
- If the condition continues untreated for weeks, you’ll find the pain no longer comes and goes. It hurts consistently. Soon you might be enduring more headaches at irregular intervals.
Cracked Tooth Syndrome Can Be a Big Hurt
Your child might be tolerating a large range of symptoms involving a tiny crack in his (or her) tooth. However, if this has continued over the course of weeks, he or she might have Cracked Tooth Syndrome.
You see, the untrained eye cannot see a micro-fracture in a tiny tooth. Sometimes we cannot even see them on an x-ray. Jacob’s uncle is a pediatric dentist. He and Jacob’s mom had talked about this type of injury previously. Consequently, his mom recognized these symptoms. Cracked Tooth Syndrome or CTS is difficult to diagnose because “there’s such a large range of symptoms and severity. That’s what makes cracked tooth syndrome one of the trickier conditions to diagnose.”
Cracked Tooth Syndrome and Your Child
In this article, we are going to get a look at symptoms, causes, and treatment for Cracked Tooth Syndrome. “Symptoms will vary with teeth that have healthy pulps, for teeth with inflamed or necrotic pulps, and for teeth that have been root treated. The American Association of Endodontists has classified five specific variations of cracked teeth. The list includes craze line, fractured cusp, cracked tooth, split tooth, and vertical root fracture.”
Each of the types of dental cracks above requires that the dentist discover where Jacob cracked his tooth, exactly. Certainly, in the case of a tiny crack, it might even be difficult to initially find which tooth is bothering him. However, by noting Jacob’s different types of pain Dr. Troy King can diagnose the tooth and determine the extent of the crack, as well as the level of treatment. Additionally, different types of pain can indicate the crack goes into the dentin, pulpal, or periodontal parts of the tooth.
What causes Cracked Tooth Syndrome?
In fact, here at Dentistry for Children, Dr. King will have to make other tests to verify that Jacob has a micro-fracture in a tooth. Let’s look at some of the ways it might have happened.
- Perhaps Jacob bit down very hard on a piece of “jaw-breaker” candy or a walnut.
- With the stress of starting back to school after COVID-19, lock-down, perhaps he has been excessively grinding on his teeth.
- Maybe he recently sustained a physical injury and the cracked tooth is gradually getting worse.
- Likewise, CTS can come from a large existing filling that weakened the tooth structure.
- Did you know a sudden temperature change can also crack a tooth? “For example, this could happen if a person burns their mouth while drinking tea, then drinks a glass of cold water to soothe the pain.”
Jacob’s Bike Wreck Explains His Mystery
Apparently, Jacob’s Cracked Tooth Syndrome began when he had a small bike wreck involving a cement retaining wall and a black eye. No one even thought about his teeth because the dramatically swollen eye demanded so much attention. His Mom was loathed to take him to the hospital when he threw off the injury like a simple bruise.
On the one hand, at a time when COVID-19 still lurks in the hospital hallways, many people choose to avoid hospitals for small injuries. Little did they know the real injury from the bike wreck lurked in his tooth. On the other hand, going to the dentist right after it happened might not have been effective because his symptoms were so generalized and the fissure was so small.
The tiny crack got bigger with daily use and everything he ate aggravated it. CTS began to rule Jacob’s life causing headaches and pain when chewing. His drinking warm water was an added symptom.
Different Types of Cracked Teeth Predict Treatment Plans
Let’s explore some of the different types of cracks that the x-ray and examination can reveal.
- Craze lines–You might have heard there are some types of cracks that do not hurt. You can barely see them. We term them craze lines and they are very common in adults. They do not require treatment.
- Fractured cusp–In a filled tooth, this crack extends around a dental filling. Pain is minor, but the dentist will usually give you a new filling or crown.
- Oblique supragingival cracks–These cracks do not go below the gum line.
Types of Cracks that Ignite Cracked Tooth Syndrome
4. Oblique Subgingival Cracks–These cracks do go below the gum line. Then, the tooth can hurt and require a root canal and crown. (It’s important not to scare a child about root canals. They are not the nightmarish procedure you or your grandmother endured. We have new and painless technology and medication.)
5. Oblique root cracks: Cracked Tooth Syndrome will be very painful because this crack not only goes below the gum line but into the jawbone. Tooth extraction might be the only treatment possible if a patient ignores this pain.
Two More Special Reasons for CTS
6. Split tooth: The pediatric dentist identifies this tooth by seeing the distinct segments. He might save a portion of the tooth. It all depends on the position and length of the crack.
7. Vertical root fracture: This is a bold crack that starts at the root and goes right to the chewing surface. Ironically it might not inflict enough pain to send you to the dentist at first. Actually this crack invites infection and tooth abscess in the bone and gum. That will force you to go to the dentist. So, once again, do not let Cracked Tooth Syndrome get out of hand. Stop telling yourself to just ignore it. It’s a warning that you could be really hurt.
Terrific Takeaways from Cracked Tooth Syndrome
Jacob’s story of his Cracked Tooth Syndrome is not over yet. Join us for part 2 of this story and discover how Dr. King cures his CTS. (Jacob’s 7-year-old sister misunderstood this common abbreviation, by the way. She thought it was very funny that her brother had Cats in his mouth. Of course, she knew that was impossible, but the idea made her giggle.)