Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

October 16, 2010

Can you tell a cracked tooth from an x-ray?

Filed under: Fractured teeth — Tags: , , , — mesasmiles @ 9:58 pm

Is it easy for an x-ray to miss detecting a cracked tooth? I had full mouth x-rays-taken at two different dental offices within a month of each other. Neither set of x-rays detected a cracked tooth. But when I changed to another dental office and that dentist referred me to an Endodontist, from the x-rays the Endo took, he told me I had a cracked tooth that needed a root canal right away. I’m wondering why the other two dental offices missed seeing that cracked tooth in the x-rays, and am wondering if it is common for an x-ray and/or dentist to miss detecting a cracked tooth?
– Grace from California

Grace,
I would put the answer to your question this way – it is very difficult to detect a cracked tooth on an x-ray. Unless the x-ray is taken at the exact angle of the crack, it won’t show up.

I suspect that the endodontist didn’t actually see the crack, but saw some subtle evidence that suggested a crack.

I have four molars of my own that all ended up needing root canal treatments because of cracks developing in them. But none of the cracks have ever shown up on an x-ray.

Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

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