A tooth fracture is a break or crack in the hard shell of the tooth. The outer shell of the tooth is called the enamel. It protects the softer inner pulp of the tooth. The inner pulp contains nerves and blood vessels.
An untreated tooth fracture can lead to pain, infection, or tooth loss. It depends on the type of fracture.
Types of tooth fractures include:
Craze lines—shallow cracks that cause no pain and do not need treatment
Fractured cusp—breaks in the chewing surface of the tooth
Cracked tooth—the tooth cracks from the chewing surface down toward the root of the tooth
Split tooth—cracks down through the root, separating a section of tooth
Vertical root fracture—cracks begin in the root and move up toward chewing surface
Cracked teeth. American Association of Endodontists website. Available at: https://www.aae.org/patients/dental-symptoms/cracked-teeth/. Accessed August 10, 2021.
Dental emergencies. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/dental-care-concerns/dental-emergencies. Accessed August 10, 2021.
Facial trauma in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/facial-trauma-in-adults. Accessed August 10, 2021.
Fractured and avulsed teeth. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dental-disorders/dental-emergencies/fractured-and-avulsed-teeth. Accessed August 10, 2021.
Hilton TJ, Funkhouser E, et al. National Dental Practice-Based Research Network Collaborative Group. Baseline characteristics as 3-year predictors of tooth fracture and crack progression: Findings from The National Dental Practice-Based Research Network. J Am Dent Assoc. 2021;152(2):146-156.
Last reviewed July 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Dan Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 8/10/2021
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