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2727 Hamburg Street, Suite 3, Schenectady, NY 12303

Understanding Chipped, Cracked, and Fractured Teeth

April 30, 2024

Your teeth are made up of several layers, with the outermost one being the dental enamel. Despite its incredible strength, even dental enamel can suffer damage from erosion, decay, or a traumatic injury. Unlike bones, dental enamel does not have the ability to repair itself and heal.

At Dr. Wanda I. Saldaña, we often see patients with chipped, cracked, or fractured teeth. These issues can arise from biting something hard, like ice or a pencil, sustaining a direct blow to the face or mouth, or dealing with tooth decay that weakens and compromises a tooth's structural integrity.

The type and extent of damage will determine whether your tooth can get repaired. With minor chips or tiny cracks, known as craze lines, no immediate care is needed. However, more significant damage may require dental bonding, a filling, or a crown. If the fracture exposes the tooth's vital tissue, a root canal procedure might be necessary. In some cases, if the fracture involves the root structure, an extraction may be required.

To help you understand these issues better, let's take a closer look at five categories of cracked and fractured teeth:

  • Craze Lines. These minor cracks are common in adults. They're shallow and generally painless, requiring no treatment.
  • Fractured Cusp. If you break part of the chewing surface or cusp of a tooth, you may experience discomfort. Depending on the extent of the fracture, a full coverage crown might be needed, and if the nerve is affected, a root canal procedure may be necessary.
  • Cracked Tooth. If you have a crack that extends from the chewing surface of your tooth down towards the root, it's likely that the nerve has been damaged. If left untreated, this type of crack 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. Unfortunately, a tooth with a vertical root fracture usually requires extraction.

If you've chipped, cracked, or fractured your tooth, don't hesitate to reach out to our office for timely evaluation and care. Remember, taking proper care of your teeth can help prevent these issues from occurring in the first place.