What to Do When You Fracture a Tooth

Posted on: February 2, 2018

A fractured tooth is a cause for concern.  If you fracture your tooth, you might find it difficult to chew, consume hot or cold foods/drinks, and smile with confidence.  Let's take a look at the basics of fractured teeth to help you understand why they occur, the different types and what can be done to remedy affected teeth.

Cracked teeth

Craze Line Fractures

The most common type of fractured tooth is the craze line.  Though this is a common fracture, it is not that concerning.  A craze line fracture involves the enamel of the tooth.  It is especially common in the posterior and anterior teeth.  Craze line cracks are on the surface of the enamel.

While craze lines do not mandate restorative treatment, patients need to monitor them closely as time progresses.If alterations occur, the dentist might decide to take action on the fractured tooth.

Vertical Fractures

The worst tooth fracture is a vertical root fracture.  This fracture often requires the removal of the root.  In some cases, the full tooth must be removed.  A tooth can also suffer a spit.  Splits begin in the coronal section of the tooth and move down to the root surface.

If the tooth is not egregiously split, the dentist might be able to salvage it.  The pulp is often the determining factor.  If the pulp ends up in a deep crack, it will mandate treatment.

Fractured Cusps

If there is a fractured cusp, the dentist will closely inspect the tooth to determine the length of the fracture. We will also need to analyze the health and stability of the pulp. The dentist will determine if it is indeed a fractured cusp or a cracked tooth. If the cusp is fractured, it might have to be removed.

If ample tooth remains, it could be possible to perform a direct restoration.  Otherwise, the tooth might require an inlay, onlay or a buildup and crown.  The solution the dentist settles on hinges on the amount of enamel and tooth remaining, the material choice if it is in a visible portion of the mouth and several other factors.

Treatment Options for Fractured Teeth

If the fracture is minor, we can file down a portion of the tooth.  This filing removes the edge and will likely suffice unless it cracks for another reason.  We can also use dental bonding to combine the fractured section of the tooth with a filling material.

This material is white in color to suit the aesthetic of nearby teeth.  If the fracture is small, the use of a mouth guard at night when sleeping will reduce the symptoms. If the fracture is significant, your dentist might suggest the addition of a crown. A dental crown covers the cracked tooth, giving it ample protection against additional threats.

If the fracture reaches down to the pulp, it might impact the nerve, spurring intense pain. The dentist will recommend a root canal at this point. The root canal procedure involves a cleansing and filling of the pulp followed by a placement of the crown on the tooth.

Call us at (760) 692-1065 for more information from El Camino Dental Arts or to schedule an appointment in our dentist office in Vista.