A dental root fracture is when the root of your tooth—the part you can’t see above the crown of the tooth that’s hidden by gum tissue—is cracked. The crack is not normally visible, but may be if it extends onto the tooth crown. However, it can cause symptoms and may spread to compromise your entire tooth.
These types of fractures are more challenging to treat than cracks that occur on the crown of the tooth. Depending on the nature of the fracture, you may have a few options for treating the tooth. Here’s how your dentist or endodontist—a dental specialist who deals with the nerve tissue of your tooth, or the root—can treat a dental root fracture!
What Causes a Tooth Root to Fracture?
As with other dental injuries, there are a few causes of a tooth root fracture. Generally, teeth that are weak are more susceptible to experience cracks, whether their structure has been compromised due to numerous procedures done to the tooth or if the tooth was weak to begin with.
Other causes of a dental root fracture could include :
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Trauma to the tooth from chewing on hard foods or objects
- Existing decay to the tooth
- Sports injuries
A tooth root fracture won’t always be obvious when it happens, and may go unnoticed by both you and your dentist without causing any symptoms.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of a Cracked Tooth Root
Although some tooth root fractures won’t cause symptoms immediately, others will be diagnosed after an infection occurs in the tooth’s root . For others, existing symptoms may be intermittent, and could include pain when biting or chewing, tooth sensitivity, or even an abscess in the tissue surrounding the tooth.
What makes dental root fractures so challenging is partially because they won’t always show up on an x-ray. Some fractures will, while others won’t become apparent until an infection has happened. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a tooth root fracture, you and your dentist or endodontist can discuss how best to proceed.
Treatment for Your Fractured Tooth
Dental root fractures can be vertical or horizontal in nature. Generally, horizontal cracks have a better chance of being treated than vertical cracks. Cracks closer to the gumline—where the root of your tooth meets the crown—are almost always more challenging to treat, and may require an extraction .
However, some dental root fractures can be treated with root canal therapy, or by removing the portion of the tooth with the fracture. Your dentist may refer you to an endodontist to save your tooth.
Your treatment will all depend on the unique nature of your fracture and the condition of your tooth. Your oral healthcare professional can let you know more about your options during your appointment. Are you experiencing symptoms of a dental root fracture? These inconspicuous fractures could lead to the need for an extraction, so don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist if you’re having symptoms!