Cracked Tooth: 5 Types and How to Treat Them

By Dr. James Forester | Jun 9, 2022 | Cosmetic Dentistry, Dental Crowns, Dental Implants, Porcelain Dental Veneers, Root Canal
Cracked tooth Main Image

Our teeth experience a lot of wear and tear throughout our lives. Chewing hard foods or participating in extreme sports sometimes results in damage (such as a cracked tooth).

In this article, we’ll discuss 5 types of cracked teeth and how to treat them. So if you have a cracked tooth, there’s no need to panic. Cracked teeth are not unusual, and there are several possible treatments to repair your smile.

James G. Forester, DDS of Johns Creek offers comprehensive restorative and cosmetic dentistry. If one of your teeth is cracked, schedule an appointment with Dr. Forester to customize the perfect treatment plan for your needs.

5 Types of Cracked Teeth

The American Association of Endodontics has classified 5 different types of tooth cracks. The treatment plan your dentist recommends will be based on the classification of the crack in your tooth.

image of a cracked tooth1) Craze Lines

Hairline fractures in the outside of the enamel are called craze lines. These are shallow, vertical cracks in the tooth that often appear in the front adult teeth.

While craze lines are typically painless, they can ruin the esthetics of your smile, so our dentist may recommend cosmetic dentistry services to renew the appearance of your teeth.

Since craze lines can’t be removed, the most common treatment for this type of cracked tooth is a porcelain veneer that covers the front of the tooth, obscuring the fracture.

image showing a type of cracked tooth2) Fractured Cusp

Severe tooth decay or excessive force from teeth grinding or clenching can lead to a fractured cusp. This is when a piece of the tooth’s surface breaks off, usually on its own due to the weakening of the enamel. The top and bottom back teeth (molars) are most commonly fractured.

Fractured cusps typically cause more discomfort than pain. Symptoms may include:

  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Pain from biting or chewing
  • A sharp edge on the tooth
  • Gum irritation

To protect the tooth and restore proper function, our dentist may recommend a dental crown or filling, depending on the size of the tooth fracture.

graphic of a type of cracked tooth3) Cracked Tooth

An injury is classified as a cracked tooth when there is an incomplete fracture that originates on the surface of the tooth and penetrates towards the root. Movement from cracked enamel irritates the pulp inside the tooth which can cause severe discomfort.

A cracked tooth is centered on the chewing surface and is often the result of excessive force from jaw clenching or biting down on hard objects like candy or ice. If the crack extends too far towards the root, a cracked tooth can cause root pathosis (a disease in the root of the tooth).

In the treatable stage, a dental crown can cover and protect the cracked tooth. If the crack is too deep, the tooth may need to be removed and replaced with a dental implant.

4) Split Root

A split root occurs when a cracked tooth has proceeded to the untreatable stage. In this case, the two halves of the fracture separate completely from each other and may even be loose.

graphic showing a split root crack in a tooth

To treat a split root, we must extract the tooth completely, and we recommend replacing it with a dental implant. Dental implants fuse with your jaw bone to provide a complete replacement for a split root.

5) Vertical Root Fracture

When a crack extends from the root towards the surface, it is called a vertical root fracture. Since it begins below the visible surface of a tooth, a vertical root fracture is often noticed when it causes an infection in the surrounding gums. But it can be diagnosed on a radiograph before infection occurs.

In most cases, a tooth with a vertical root fracture needs to be removed and replaced with a dental implant. However, in some instances, it may be possible to remove the fractured root with a root resection (Source).

How to Treat a Cracked Tooth

Along with putting you at risk for serious oral health problems, a cracked tooth can be painful or uncomfortable. So, you’ll want to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Our team at Lifetime Smiles will assess your needs and determine the right course of action so you can get back to the lifestyle you’re used to.

durathin veneer exampleVeneers

For cases like craze lines where the main concern is cosmetics, porcelain or DURAthin® veneers are often the best options.

Veneers are bonded to the front of your teeth, covering up the visible cracks and restoring your natural look. With proper care, veneers are long-lasting and will give you a beautiful smile for years to come.

Dental Crowns

One of the most common restorative dental treatments is a crown. This strong, durable cap is placed over your damaged tooth to restore its function and protect it from further injury.

Our dentist will take impressions of your teeth to make sure your customized crown is the right shape and size to replace your natural tooth. Dental crowns are a viable solution for cracked teeth in the treatable stage or fractured cusps.

graphic showing a root canalRoot Canal Procedure

If a crack has penetrated the pulp of your tooth, you will likely experience sensitivity, swelling, or tooth pain. A root canal can repair the damage.

A root canal procedure clears out any decay and prevents infection in the damaged root. After the procedure, we will place a dental crown to protect your tooth and stop the crack from spreading further.

Dental Implant

Extensive damage may require an extraction. If this is the case for you, we can replace it with a high-quality dental implant. This is a permanent treatment that restores both the look and function of your smile.

graphic showing how dental implants lookA split root or a vertical root fracture often requires extraction. Tooth loss impacts your overall health as well as the quality of your life, so it’s important to replace the entire tooth.

A dental implant paired with a crown looks and feels like a natural tooth so you can eat, chew, and talk in the manner you’re used to.

Cracked Tooth Repair in Johns Creek, GA

Lifetime Smiles is dedicated to being your family’s trusted dental practice. With over 35 years of experience, Dr. Forester is proud to provide the Johns Creek community with high-quality dental care.

Regardless of what type of cracked tooth you have, our team can provide you with the proper treatment to renew your smile. Call our office at (770) 232-1830 or contact us to schedule a consultation today!