Tooth Fracture/Cracked Tooth: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments

What is a tooth fracture?

Any crack on the tooth surface resulting from trauma, chewing hard food, grinding of teeth during night or mechanical wear and tear of tooth structure, results in tooth fracture or cracked tooth.

Is fracture line always visible?

No, the fractured line or the crack over a tooth surface might sometimes be very difficult to detect. However, the tooth might become symptomatic or painful in some cases.

What are the types or tooth fracture?

Cracks may appear as the following:

1. Craze cracks: They are tiny cracks in the enamel (hard outer surface) of teeth. They usually don’t pain and don’t require any treatment. If sensitive, toothpaste can be used for the same.

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2. Fractured tooth cusp: This type of fracture may occur around a sharp cusp, a dental filling or while chewing hard food. It might pain and require treatment.

3. Cracks extending into gums: A vertical crack that extending through the tooth which is above gum line can usually be saved. However, if the crack line extends into the gum that tooth might be needed to be pulled out or undergo RCT. Prompt treatment offers the best chance of saving the tooth.

4. Vertical tooth fracture: The tooth crack travels through the entire length of tooth and root and is often impossible to save. The tooth usually becomes painful and the fracture line might also result in a split tooth if not treated promptly.

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What are the causes of tooth fracture?

  • Chewing hard food like nuts, bones, hard candies etc.

  • Grinding of teeth during night

  • Trauma to mouth and teeth during accident, sports, falls or blows during fistfight.

  • Opening of bottle cans using teeth

  • Natural wearing of teeth structure with age

  • Abrupt changes in the temperature of mouth (eating something extremely hot followed by extreme cold things)

What are the symptoms of the fractured tooth ?

  • Not all every cracked teeth are symptomatic. Common symptoms include,

  • pain while chewing especially when bite is released

  • sensitivity to heat, cold, or sweetness

  • discontinuous pain that comes and goes

  • swelling of the gum around effected tooth

What is the treatment of a fractured tooth?

The treatment option depends on the severity and location of a fracture line.

Filling: The fractured line or crack is restored to aesthetics and functionality using a filling material.

Crown: A dental crown is placed over a cracked tooth to protect it from further problems. it also restores the functionality of the tooth.

Root canal Treatment: When the fracture line is so invasive that it involves the pulp, RCT is needed to prevent the tooth from further infection and pain.

Extraction: Sometimes removal of the fractured tooth and replacing it with artificial tooth is the only option left when the fracture line is beyond repair.

No treatment: Tiny hairline cracks in the enamel which doesn’t create pain or are visible may be left as it is.

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