Understanding Chipped, Cracked, and Fractured Teeth

June 10, 2024

Dental enamel is the outermost layer of our teeth and it's known for being incredibly strong. In fact, dental enamel is harder than bone! But despite its strength, it can still get damaged by erosion, decay, or a traumatic injury. Unfortunately, unlike our bones, dental enamel isn't living tissue that can repair itself and heal.

At Crown Dental Group, we often see patients with chipped, fractured, and cracked teeth. These issues can arise from biting into something hard like ice or a pencil, taking a direct hit to the face or mouth, or even from decay that weakens your teeth's structure. If left untreated, these problems can worsen over time.

The type and extent of damage will determine whether your tooth can be repaired with dental bonding, a filling, or a crown. In some cases, a root canal procedure may be needed if the fracture exposes the tooth's vital tissue. If the damage involves the root structure, an extraction might be necessary.

There are five categories of cracked and fractured teeth:

  • Craze Lines. These minor cracks are common in adults. They're tiny and shallow, causing no discomfort and usually requiring no treatment.
  • Fractured Cusp. Breaking part of the chewing surface or cups of a tooth cusp can lead to discomfort. Sometimes, a full coverage crown is required. If the fracture affects the tooth's nerve, it will need a root canal procedure.
  • Cracked Tooth. With a crack that extends down from the chewing surface of your tooth towards the root, damage to the nerve is common. If left untreated, a cracked tooth can worsen and result in losing your tooth.
  • Split Tooth. In a split tooth, the crack divides the tooth into two segments. The position and extent of the crack will determine whether any portion of the tooth can be saved.
  • Vertical Root Fracture. This fracture begins in the root of the tooth and extends up towards the chewing surface. In most cases, a tooth with a vertical root fracture will require extraction.

If you chip, crack, or fracture your tooth, don't hesitate to contact us for timely evaluation and care. Our dedicated staff at the office of Crown Dental Group is here to help!