How Serious is Fractured Root?


The roots of the teeth can fracture in several different ways. In order to understand the different types of fractures, it is important to first understand the layers of the tooth. The tooth contains a crown which is the portion of the tooth above the gumline. The tooth’s crown is the area which patients brush, floss, and used to chew. The crown is covered in a firm outer shell called enamel which provides protection. Below the enamel is the dentin, which contains dental pulp. The dentin is the center layer of the tooth and contains blood vessels and nerves. When the pulp is damaged, it is incredibly painful. The tooth’s root reaches far into the jawbone and gums and provides the tooth with support.

Patients with a minor crack may assume it is harmless. When cracks remain untreated, they can result in serious issues. Dentists work to maintain healthy teeth and promptly address issues which may arise. In some cases, an issue may be complicated and require treatment from a specialist. An endodontist is a special dentist with additional training. They focus on treating issues such as infection, chips, cracks, and breaks.

A severe tooth fracture can compromise the integrity of the entire tooth and may even cause damage to the adjacent teeth. Fractures allow for plaque to go beyond the inner layers of the tooth, potentially causing infection. The tooth’s enamel acts as a barrier that prevents infection. When a fracture damages the enamel, this barrier is compromised. Below is a summary of fractures which endodontists treat.

Oblique supragingival fractures occur when there is a crack above the gum which reaches into the upper portion of the tooth. While this fracture may not result in pain right away, it can result in infection or pain when it is not treated in a timely manner. This type of fracture is often smaller and impacts the surface of the tooth. When chewing on a fractured tooth, it can make the issue worse over time. The optimal treatment will vary based on specific details of the fracture. An endodontist will complete a thorough examination of the fracture.

An oblique subgingival fracture affects a larger area of the tooth. This type of fracture can even reach down into the jawbone or root and typically causes serious pain. In some cases, this fracture impacts the nerves. It can be difficult for patients with this type of fracture to perform routine tasks including speaking and chewing.

An oblique root fracture exists under the gums and may extend into the jaw. This fracture is quite painful and requires prompt treatment.

A vertical furcation fracture takes place when the tooth splits and becomes two roots or more. This fracture causes a serious amount of pain and makes it virtually impossible to use the tooth.

Vertical apical root fractures occur when the fracture goes down the middle of the tooth and into the root. This fracture is also very painful and often requires a root canal for treatment.

When a portion of the tooth’s root breaks off completely, it is called a vertical root fracture. This type of break may be caused by brittle roots from a dead nerve. It can also be caused by a failed root canal.

Patients who think they have experienced a root fracture should contact their dentist right away. The dentist or endodontist will examine the tooth, may order x-rays, determine how severe the fracture is, and identify the best treatment plan. Patients who neglect to treat their fractured root can experience serious, long-term problems. In severe cases, this may result in the complete loss of the tooth.

Can I leave Fractured Tooth Root In