Most Common Root Fractures in Teeth

A root fracture occurs when there is a break which extends into the tooth’s root. Various issues can cause a dental root fracture, making them relatively common. In order to determine the best treatment plan, it is critical for the dentist to identify the cause, type, and severity of the fracture.

Patients often experience a root fracture from the following causes: accident, sports-related injury, fall, trauma, grinding of the teeth, neglect or poor oral hygiene, untreated small cracks, and the natural aging process. A summary of the main causes of root fractures, common types of fractures, and treatment options are included in the article below.

The tooth contains three distinct layers. In order to properly understand a root fracture, it is important to discuss these layers. The three layers of a tooth include the following:

  1. Enamel: this is the visible portion of the tooth. It exists just above the gum line. While the enamel is incredibly strong and protects the tooth, it is possible for it to be damaged
  2. Dentin: this is the middle layer of the tooth just under the enamel
  3. Dental pulp: the dental pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth. It contains blood vessels and nerves, making it highly sensitive if it is damaged

In most cases, a dental root fracture is caused by an accident or trauma from an accident, fall, or sports-related injury. Patients can reduce the risk of a root fracture by consistently practicing good oral hygiene. This includes brushing the teeth at least twice each day, daily flossing, and regular visits to the dentist.

An endodontist is a dentist with specialized training. Endodontists often treat root fractures. Before treatment of a root fracture, the dental professional must understand what type of root fracture the patient has. The different types of root fractures include the following:

  • Oblique supragingival fracture
  • Oblique subgingival fracture
  • Vertical furcation fracture
  • Vertical root fracture
  • Vertical apical root fracture

In addition to an examination, the dentist will also order x-rays to determine the type and severity of the fracture. X-rays are especially important with a root fracture as the damage may not be visible above the gums.


The treatment will depend on the type or root fracture and severity of the damage. When the fracture is severe and damage extends into the dental pulp, a root canal is often used. Root canal treatment involves removing the damaged portion of the root and filling it to prevent further infection. The dentist can then place a crown over the damaged tooth to help restore the appearance of the tooth and preserve function. In cases of a severe fracture, extraction of the tooth is often needed.

The dentist will exhaust all options before removing the tooth. When the fracture is detected and treated right away, the endodontists can often perform a root canal and help the patient avoid extracting the tooth. Unfortunately, tooth extraction may be the only option in some cases. Fortunately,, there are great tooth-replacement solutions like dental implants that can restore the function and appearance of the tooth. Root canals typically last for a decade or more.

Root fractures are serious and should be addressed by a dentist right away. Prompt treatment is often critical in preserving the tooth and avoiding additional damage. Patients who think they may have fractured a root should contact their dentist immediately. When a fracture remains untreated, it can cause serious damage or compromise the tooth altogether.

Treating Fractured Root