A fractured or cracked tooth occurs due to age, tooth grinding, trauma and other factors. You might not have any symptoms of a fractured tooth. Or you might notice pain, sensitivity and swelling. Your dentist has several methods to treat a fracture, depending on the crack’s location and severity.
A fractured tooth, often called a cracked tooth or cracked tooth syndrome (CTS), is when a crack appears in your tooth. The crack can sometimes be small and harmless. Other times, it can cause your tooth to break or split.
Tooth fractures are most common in children and older people, although anybody can crack a tooth. If you suspect a broken tooth, see a dentist right away.
Teeth consist of two parts:
Both the crown and the root consist of several layers:
Tooth fractures can affect some or all of these layers. Treatment for a cracked tooth depends on where the fracture happens and the severity of the fracture.
A broken tooth may hurt or feel sensitive, though some fractures cause no symptoms. See a dentist right away. Getting treatment sooner increases the chances of repairing a cracked tooth.
The most common causes of tooth fractures are:
Fractures occur most often on the upper front teeth and the teeth toward the back of your lower jaw (mandibular molars). Though people commonly fracture one tooth, more severe injury or trauma may fracture multiple teeth. People with dental cavities have a higher risk of fracture, even with less severe trauma.
Cracked teeth don’t always cause symptoms. When they do, the main symptoms include:
To diagnose a fractured tooth, your provider will ask about your symptoms and what caused the possible broken tooth. They will ask about trauma or injury you’ve experienced.
For a thorough evaluation of your teeth, you’ll need to see a dentist. They will ask about your dental history and whether you grind your teeth or chew on ice or hard foods.
After that, your dentist will:
Your dentist will classify your fracture as one of the following five categories:
To treat a fractured tooth, your dentist may send you to an endodontist (a dental specialist who focuses on dental pulp and root issues). These steps may relieve symptoms at home before you see your dentist:
Treatment for a fractured tooth depends on how much damage your tooth has. Common cracked tooth treatments include:
Sometimes your dental provider may recommend not repairing a broken tooth at all. This may occur when your fracture does not:
You can’t prevent every tooth fracture. But you can reduce the risk of cracked tooth syndrome with good dental practices:
No, a cracked tooth can’t heal, but treatment might save your tooth. Getting your broken tooth repaired quickly can lessen your risk of more damage and infection.
Repairing your broken tooth may take weeks or months depending on your treatment. Your dentist will give you a better idea of how long your specific repair might take. For instance:
With prompt treatment, repaired teeth can last for years and not cause any other issues. But even with treatment, tooth cracks may sometimes continue to get bigger or split. This can result in tooth loss at some point.
Sometimes a cracked tooth may lead to an infection (tooth abscess). Tell your provider if you notice symptoms including:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Accidents and many other causes can break a tooth. If it’s visible, it can affect your appearance and feel embarrassing. You might notice pain, sensitivity, swelling, or signs of infection, but you can also crack a tooth without any symptoms. See your dentist right away if you suspect a fractured tooth. Treatments may save your tooth, restore your appearance and prevent further dental problems.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/04/2021.
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