denTEL's Dental Patient Library

Fractured Teeth

Search the patient library
Generic filters

A fracture of the tooth, also known as a cracked tooth, is when there is a crack or break in the hard outer shell of your tooth, known as the enamel. While anyone can have a tooth fracture, they are more common with children and older adults. Sometimes a fracture can be small and seem harmless while other fractures can cause your tooth to break or split. Treatment of a fractured tooth will depend on the location of the fracture and its severity.

Both the crown of your tooth, which is visible above your gums, and the root, which lies below your gums can fracture. A fracture can affect the enamel of the tooth, which is the hard white outer surface of the tooth, the dentin, the middle layer of the tooth, or the pulp, the soft inner tissue of the tooth that contains the blood vessels and nerves. Left untreated, a tooth fracture can lead to pain, infection, or tooth loss.

Causes of a Tooth Fracture

Most often, a tooth fracture occurs on the upper front teeth or the teeth at the back of your lower jaw, also known as the mandibular molars. While most people have a fracture of one tooth, severe injury or trauma can fracture several teeth. A tooth fracture can be caused by the following:

  • Chewing on hard foods
  • Biting down on a hard object
  • Being hit in the face
  • Tooth decay or damage
  • Teeth that have silver alloy restorations
  • Exposure to extreme temperatures
  • Tooth grinding or clenching of the jaw
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Not wearing a mouthguard or mask while playing a sport

Symptoms of a Tooth Fracture

A tooth fracture doesn’t always have symptoms, especially if there is a fracture of the tooth root. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Tooth pain that comes and goes when chewing
  • Sharp pain when biting down
  • Sensitivity to foods that are hot or cold 
  • Swelling around the tooth
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Bad breath

Diagnosis of a Tooth Fracture

Your dental provider will discuss your symptoms with you and the possible cause of your tooth fracture. They will perform the following diagnostic tests to confirm the fracture:

  • Asking you to bite down on a stick to see if you feel pain
  • Inspecting your teeth for cracked lines
  • Checking your gums for inflammation
  • Putting a dye stain on your tooth to display the crack
  • Taking a diagnostic image of your teeth
  • Periodontal probe of your teeth
  • Passing a light through your tooth

Early diagnosis of a tooth fracture can help save your tooth.

Treatment of a Tooth Fracture

Depending on the extent of your tooth fracture, treatment may include:

  • Placing a crown over your tooth
  • Placing a dental veneer over a small, chipped surface
  • Performing a root canal
  • Extraction of the tooth
  • Removal of the fractured portion of the tooth
  • Bonding the tooth to fill in the fracture
  • Cosmetically contouring the tooth

Prevention of a Tooth Fracture

A tooth fracture cannot be prevented but you can reduce the risk of one by following good dental practices that include:

  • Avoiding chewing on hard foods or ice
  • Practicing good dental hygiene
  • Wearing a mouthguard when playing sports or if you grind your teeth at night
  • Visiting your dentist on a regular basis
  • Being aware of temperature extremes when eating foods and beverages
  • Not using your teeth to open plastic bags

Ready to book a treatment?

Other topics

Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate

A cleft lip or a cleft palate is the most common birth defect in children. A baby may be born with only a cleft lip or a cleft palate but some children are born with both.


Gingivitis is the inflammation of your gums that is caused by the buildup of plaque and bacteria between your teeth and gums. Plaque on your teeth turns into tartar, a hard deposit that becomes trapped at the base of your teeth. Combined, plaque and tartar irritate and inflame your gums causing gingivitis.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is the infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place in your mouth.

Gum Recession

Gum recession is caused by periodontal disease, which begins when

Loose Dentures

No matter what material your dentures are made of, if they are cared for and maintained properly, they should last for years. Overall, your dentures should fit snugly and comfortably but dentures can become loose for a variety of reasons. 

Missing Teeth

Missing teeth are usually caused by accident, disease, or genetics.

Skip to content