Cracked Teeth

The outer layer of the visible teeth in your mouth, or tooth enamel, is the hardest tissue in the human body. However, even the strongest substances can be worn down with time. Every day you use your teeth to eat all types of hard, soft, and chewy foods. Each time you chew, your teeth deal with tens to hundreds of pounds of pressure which can eventually wear down your tooth enamel, sometimes causing small cracks in your teeth that can further weaken your teeth.

Although shallow cracks in teeth may not be an immediate problem, with time these cracks can become deeper and extend through dentin and irritate the pulp¸ the area where the nerves and blood vessels of teeth are. These deep cracks can also allow saliva to leak into the pulp, which can cause a tooth infection and potential abscess.

The chance of a crack causing a dental infection and possibly needing a root canal depends on the location and depth of the crack. Dr. Kruszewski will meticulously examine your tooth to determine the type of crack you many have, and will explain how it can be treated.

Please see below for an overview of the types of cracks that can affect your teeth:

Chipped Tooth (Without Pulp Exposure):

Sometimes the outer edge of a tooth may chip off, but there is no exposure of the pulp (nerve space). In most cases, a root canal is not necessary and your dentist can either bond the tooth fragment back onto your tooth or place a tooth colored filling.


Cracked Tooth (Treatable and Non-treatable):

The location and how deep a crack is on a tooth will determine whether or not Dr. Kruszewski can save your tooth with a root canal. A crack that is limited to the crown, or top part of the tooth, is almost always treatable.

If a crack extends below the gumline onto the root surface of the tooth, even the best root canal and dental filling usually will not be able to provide a long term solution to the crack. Oftentimes where a root crack is located, there will be a deep space between your gum and tooth with a gum infection.

If a root canal and filling is attempted, the infection and deep space in the gum will not heal completely. This allows saliva and bacteria to continue to leak inside your tooth. This allows your tooth infection to persist or can either be a source for a new tooth infection to develop.

Vertical Root Fracture:

In very rare cases, a small crack may initially form on a root tip of one of your teeth. These types of cracks are usually seen in previously root canal treated teeth or if you experience dental trauma from an accident.

The chance of being able to successfully treat your tooth depends on how large and long the root crack is. Dr. Kruszewski may take a 3D xray scan (also called a Cone Beam, or CBCT) of your tooth to gather more information. If the crack is limited to the bottom portion of the root, a root canal surgery (Apicoectomy) is usually the treatment of choice. If the crack extends completely up a root, extraction of the tooth is usually recommended.