This article reviews the most salient lessons learned from a large, multisite, 3-year observational study of posterior teeth with cracks conducted by The National Dental Practice-Based Research Network.
Types of studies reviewed:
Eight articles published over a 6-year period (2017-2022) describing clinical characteristics of posterior teeth with cracks and their treatment and outcomes are reviewed and discussed to answer 3 common questions faced by oral health care clinicians: Which cracked teeth will get worse? When should practitioners intervene? What is the best treatment?
Although cracks in teeth are prevalent, few will fracture (3%) or show crack progression in 3 years (12%). Characteristics that guide the clinician to treatment include active caries, biting pain, and to a lesser degree, having a crack detectable with an explorer, connecting with a restoration, or blocking transilluminated light; the main treatment chosen is a complete crown. Of those teeth treated (36%), few (14%) will need retreatment but will still survive, despite having an internal crack as well.
Conclusions and practical implications:
Although cracked teeth often pose a dilemma to clinicians, clincians are generally good at deciding which teeth to treat and when and which to monitor.
Cracked teeth; extraction; pain; restoration; root canal treatment.