Fractured Tooth: Understanding the Impact and Treatment Options

A fractured tooth is a painful and concerning dental issue that affects both oral health and overall well-being. From accidental injuries to underlying dental conditions, there are various reasons why a tooth may break or crack. Whether you’re experiencing tooth pain or simply want to learn more about dental health, we aim to provide valuable insights into managing a fractured tooth effectively.

In this article, we’ll explore the topic further by discussing the causes and symptoms of tooth fractures, how dentists diagnose and treat them, and practical tips for preventing such dental issues.

Fractured Tooth

What is a Fractured Tooth?

A fractured tooth, also known as a cracked tooth, occurs when there’s a crack in the tooth. It’s sometimes referred to as cracked tooth syndrome. This issue can affect anyone, but it’s more common in children and adults over 50.

The severity of the crack can vary from minor and harmless to a complete split or break in the tooth. If you suspect you have a cracked tooth, it’s crucial to see your dentist right away for an evaluation to prevent any potential complications.

What are the types of Tooth Fracture

There are five types of fractures:

Craze lines:

These are very small cracks in the enamel. They are not painful and usually do not require treatment.

Fractured cusp:

This type of fracture typically occurs near a dental filling but does not extend into the pulp. It is not typically painful.

Cracks that extend into the gum line:

The tooth is usually salvageable if a crack has not reached the gum line. However, extraction may be necessary if the crack extends into the gum line.

Split tooth:

When a tooth is split into two pieces, the entire tooth may not be salvageable.

Vertical root fracture:

This fracture begins below the gum line and travels up the tooth. Symptoms are rare unless the tooth is infected, and extraction is often required.

What parts of a tooth can crack?

Teeth have two main parts: the crown, which is the part you see above your gums, and the root, which extends below your gums into the jawbone to hold the tooth in place. Within each tooth are three layers: the enamel, which forms the outer surface and protects the tooth; the dentin, which provides structural support in the middle layer; and the pulp, which is the soft inner portion containing nerves and blood vessels.

When a tooth cracks, it can affect any of these layers. Sometimes, only the enamel is affected, while other times, the crack extends deeper into the dentin or even reaches the pulp. The treatment required depends on the extent and location of the fracture. Seeking prompt treatment increases the likelihood of repairing and saving the tooth.

What are the Causes and Symptoms of a Fractured Tooth?

A fractured tooth can occur due to various reasons, and there are several signs that may indicate its presence.

Causes of a Fractured Tooth:

Several factors can contribute to tooth fractures, including:

  • Age: Children and adults over 50 are particularly prone to tooth fractures.
  • Biting on hard objects like ice or non-food items.
  • Chewing gum excessively or crunching ice.
  • Having large dental fillings that weaken the tooth structure.
  • Undergoing a root canal procedure.
  • Experiencing trauma to the mouth or face, such as accidents or injuries.
  • Fractures commonly affect the upper front teeth and lower molars.

Symptoms of a Fractured Tooth:

The symptoms of a fractured tooth vary depending on how severe the fracture is and where it’s located. Common signs include:

  • Pain or discomfort when biting or chewing.
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.
  • Visible cracks or lines on the tooth surface.
  • Swelling or inflammation around the affected tooth.
  • Persistent toothache or discomfort.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek evaluation and treatment from your dentist promptly.

How is a Fractured tooth diagnosed?

To diagnose a tooth fracture, your dentist will inquire about your symptoms and potential causes of the fracture. Following this, they will perform a thorough examination to assess the severity of the damage and recommend the most suitable treatment. This examination may involve taking X-rays or a CBCT scan to get a detailed view of the tooth structure.

What is the Treatment for a Fractured Tooth?

The options to treat a tooth fracture are discussed below-

Professional Treatment:

The professional treatment by the dentist includes-

Dental Crown:

The dentist might suggest a dental crown to cover and protect the fractured tooth, making it strong again.

Treatment for a Fractured Tooth

Dental Bonding:

For small fractures, dental bonding can be used to repair the tooth and enhance its appearance.

Root Canal Therapy:

If the fracture reaches the pulp, you may need a root canal procedure to get rid of the damaged tissue and save the tooth.

Extraction:

In severe cases where the tooth can’t be saved, it may need to be removed.

Veneer:

Dental Veneer is a thin shell placed on the tooth’s front surface and is typically used when most or all of the natural tooth structure is still intact.

Home Remedies -

While you should see a dentist for proper treatment, you can try these at home to ease discomfort:

  • Apply an ice pack to the outside of your mouth to reduce swelling.
  • Rinse your mouth with salt water to keep it clean.
  • Take pain relievers to help with pain and swelling. 

But remember, these are temporary solutions. Make sure to see your dentist for a permanent fix.

How to Prevent Tooth Fractures?

While a tooth fracture can be a dental emergency and not entirely preventable, you can take steps to minimize your risk:

  • Maintain proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing daily and visiting the dentist for regular check-ups every six months.
  • Avoid chewing on hard foods, ice, or non-food objects that can increase the risk of tooth fractures.
  • Use a mouthguard while engaging in sports activities to shield your teeth from potential trauma or injury.
  • Consider using a nightguard if you suffer from bruxism, which can prevent grinding or clenching of teeth while sleeping, reducing the risk of tooth fractures.

Conclusion

Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for a fractured tooth is essential for maintaining dental health and overall well-being. By seeking timely professional care and following preventive measures, individuals can effectively address tooth fractures, alleviate discomfort, and restore the function and appearance of their smile. 

Ready to address your fractured tooth and restore your smile? Contact Chevy Chase Dental Care, MD, today to schedule an appointment. Whether you’re a new patient or a returning one, booking is simple. New patients can call us at (301) 302 7761, while current patients can reach us at (301) 652 5881 or visit our website to book online.

FAQ

Can a fractured tooth heal on its own?

No, a fractured tooth cannot heal on its own. Professional dental treatment is required to prevent further damage and restore function.
Extraction is not always the first option for treating a fractured tooth. Dentists typically consider alternative treatments, such as root canal therapy, before resorting to permanent tooth removal.

The outlook for a fractured tooth largely depends on the promptness of treatment. Repaired teeth can last for many years without causing additional problems if treated promptly. However, there’s a possibility that even with treatment, tooth cracks may worsen or lead to splitting over time, potentially resulting in tooth loss.

Table of Contents
Skip to content