Vertical Root Fracture

Author: Dr. Alison Vitelli-Berger, DMD, FAGD

With the recent life challenges that have been presented to our nation, we have seen an increased level of stress in our lives. It is amazing to see how much force we put on our teeth as we experience higher levels of stress. We do this by clenching and grinding our teeth and doing so, puts our teeth at a higher risk of fractures.

As with anything else, we see a wide range of the degree of fractures. Some fractures of teeth are only involving the enamel, or maybe a portion of the tooth that can be easily fixed by placing a filling. There are other cases, where cracks are extending across the tooth. These ones will likely require a crown, and in some instances they can cause an inflammatory response from the nerve of the tooth, which will call for a root canal as well. On the more severe side of the spectrum, we have portions or cusps of the tooth that fractures below the gum, or even the whole tooth is split in half. Unfortunately, in this scenario, the tooth is not restorable, and will have to be extracted. As we face this sad diagnosis, we also have to consider the ways to replace this tooth that will need to come out. Some of the options we have in dentistry are implants, fixed bridges or partial dentures.

Each case presents itself in an unique way. It is imperative to come see us and let us evaluate if you experience any discomfort while biting down, or even hear a cracking noise while eating. Also, if we do not protect our bite with a mouthguard, we increase the chances of putting uneven forces on the teeth that can lead to non-restorable fractures. So please, let us know if you catch yourself clenching or grinding your teeth, or even waking up with tightness along the sides of your forehead or your jaw. All these can be signs of clenching or grinding your teeth at night, which can be easily protected by using a nightguard.