Tooth Cracks

The Different Types of Tooth Cracks, Explained

Have you noticed a little crack in one of your teeth? It’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, according to a recent CNN report, there has been a major uptick in cracked teeth since COVID-19 hit.

Cracked teeth are a common affliction. But fortunately, tooth cracks don’t have to become serious problems.

Here is a simple explanation of the different types of tooth cracks and how they are treated.

  1. Split Teeth

Split teeth are tooth cracks that go from the surface of a tooth to the root. Unfortunately, extraction is the only option once a tooth splits, as it’s usually beyond saving.

If the split tooth is a molar, sometimes part of the root is saved by just extracting the damaged portion of the tooth.

  1. Cracked Teeth

Fortunately, cracked teeth are repairable if the crack is detected early enough. However, if the crack extends from the tooth’s surface down beneath the gum line, sometimes it is considered an “incomplete” crack.

This is a good thing as it means the tooth has not split in two and can be saved.

Often, with cracked teeth, there is some damage to the pulp. If this happens then, root canal therapy can help the sensitive area to recover.

With cracked teeth, many variables are at play. An experienced dentist will review all the factors and decide whether extraction or therapy will save the tooth.

  1. Hairline Cracks in Teeth

Also known as craze lines, hairline cracks in teeth are the most benign form of tooth cracks. However, they are quite common among adults as teeth age and become brittle.

Most often, craze lines are only an aesthetic issue. They appear as tiny vertical lines near the surface of your teeth. Usually, they require no treatment.

Still, it’s important to have a dentist look at hairline cracks as they can quickly become a more serious issue or cause oral health problems. They can occur from anything as simple as chewing ice, biting your nails, or grinding your teeth.

A dentist can look at these cracks in the enamel and determine their severity and whether treatment is necessary.

  1. Vertical Root Fractures

Most tooth cracks extend from the surface of the tooth down toward the root. However, vertical root fractures start with the root and move upward toward the bite area.

Vertical root fractures almost always happen where teeth have gone through a root canal.

If they occur, the tooth must be extracted. The exception is if a dentist determines that a portion of the root can remain after extracting most of the tooth.

  1. Fractured Cusps

Have you ever bitten into something hard and found a tiny bit of your tooth broke off? This is a fractured cusp.

Usually, this happens in teeth that have large fillings that have weakened the overall tooth.

In most cases, a crown or filling will save the tooth. However, if the delicate pulp is damaged, a root canal may be necessary.

What To Do About Tooth Cracks?

Tooth cracks can be a pain (literally), but if you schedule a checkup with a dentist as soon as they are discovered, the damaged tooth can often be saved or treated.

For more on maintaining great oral health, browse the Health portion of our blog.

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