Font Size

Cracked Tooth

Cracked Tooth

A crack in a tooth may appear as a tiny hairline fracture, usually running from the top to the bottom of the tooth. Sometimes these cracks are invisible to the naked eye and often do not show up on X-rays. It may be hard to tell which tooth hurts or whether the pain is coming from a top or bottom tooth.

Suspect a crack if:

  • You feel sharp pain when you bite down or chew.
  • You can't eat certain foods or can only chew on one side of your mouth.
  • Your tooth is very sensitive to hot or cold.

A cracked tooth may be caused by a mouth injury or loss of tooth structure from a large area of decay (cavity) or filling. Chewing on hard objects—such as nuts, hard candy, or foreign objects in food—or temperature extremes, such as when you eat hot foods and then chew on ice cubes, can also cause a cracked tooth. Other causes of a cracked tooth include teeth grinding or uneven chewing pressures.

Deep cracks can cause inflammation, infection, or death of the tooth. Prompt dental care may prevent these problems.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, MD
Last RevisedJuly 20, 2012

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Medical Dictionary