Is a Cracked Tooth a Dental Emergency?

Did you know you can have a cracked tooth but not know it? It’s true! You might think that a cracked tooth would be painful and obvious, but sometimes the pain comes and goes, and the crack is invisible. 

Dr. Meriem Boukadoum at 54th Street Dental wants you to enjoy lifelong oral health. She knows the dangers of a cracked tooth and offers effective treatment so that you can continue enjoying the benefits of healthy teeth. 

The pain of a cracked tooth

A cracked tooth can cause sensitivity to hot and cold, as well as a shooting pain that isn’t constant. Your tooth has two layers. First is a top layer of enamel. The second layer is dentin, which is a hard, yellow substance that protects the soft, pulpy inside of your tooth. 

All of your nerves and blood vessels are located in the pulpy part of your tooth. If you crack or otherwise damage the enamel or dentin layers, the nerves are exposed and the pulp becomes irritated and painful. 

Is it possible to save a cracked tooth? 

In many cases, Dr. Boukadoum can successfully save a cracked tooth. Some factors that determine whether your tooth can be rescued include where the crack is located, its severity, and the type of crack.

The types of cracks that usually don’t lead to tooth loss are: 

Craze lines

Craze lines are very fine and are extremely shallow. Generally, they don’t require any treatment. They only affect your enamel and are the only kind of crack you can safely ignore. But it is still essential to schedule an appointment with Dr. Boukadoum. Only she can determine which type of crack you have. 

Fractured cusp

If you have large fillings, your tooth may eventually crack from years of pressure. Sometimes, Dr. Boukadoum can give you a new filling, and other times, she suggests a crown as the better option. In both instances, your tooth remains intact. 

Cracks above your gumline

If you have a vertical crack that doesn’t extend below your gums, Dr. Boukadoum can most likely save your tooth with a crown or possibly a root canal. 

A crack that extends below your gumline is a more serious dental emergency. That type of crack is sometimes called a spit crack, and it usually means that your tooth is broken. 

Split cracks are one reason that Dr. Boukadoum treats cracks as a dental emergency. If you can see her before the crack extends below your gums, she can likely save it. If you wait and the crack gets bigger, it’s far more probable you’ll lose it. 

Saving a cracked tooth 

Before she determines whether she can save your tooth, Dr. Boukadoum examines the type of crack, as well as its severity.  


Shallow cracks can be repaired with plastic resin. That treatment seals the crack so that bacteria can’t get in and restores the appearance of your tooth. You will also be able to chew and speak normally. 


Just as you might expect based on the name, a crown rests on top of your natural tooth. It’s a cap that looks like a tooth but adds strength. You get a temporary crown to protect your tooth while our lab manufactures a customized one for you. Once the permanent crown is ready, Dr. Boukadoum permanently places it over your natural tooth. 

Root canal

If a crack reaches the pulp in your tooth, a root canal is the best option. Root canals aren’t the scary procedure of days gone by, thanks to modern dentistry. A root canal is no more painful than a filling. 

With a root canal, Dr. Boukadoum clears out the decayed and infected material, rinses the area, fills it, and places a crown over the tooth. 


When your tooth can’t be saved, extraction is necessary. It’s best to keep your natural tooth, but not at the risk of allowing infection or decay to cause further damage to your teeth, gums, or jawbone. After the extraction, Dr. Boukadoum can provide you with a dental implant that functions like a natural tooth. 

Not all cracks are equal, but all are serious. If you have a cracked tooth, book an appointment at 54th Street Dental and get expert advice on how to best treat it from Dr. Boukadoum.

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