Tooth fracture


A dental fracture means breaking off part of a tooth, which can vary from a tiny chip to losing the whole crown and even parts of the root. Tooth fractures can be very serious and result in tooth loss.

A fractured tooth can be painful, especially if the damage reaches the nerve. Tongue and cheeks can be damaged by sharp edges or jagged surfaces of a broken tooth. Front teeth are more prone to fractures due to their position in the mouth, but back teeth can be at risk when there are bite issues.

In general, fractures are considered as a dental emergency and as such, need to be treated by the dentist as soon as possible, since delay can cause further damage.


Broken tooth, fractured tooth



Those are the most frequent causes of tooth fracture:

  • Biting on hard foods (such as nuts, candy, ice cubes) or objects
  • Large and/or faulty fillings, crowns or bridges
  • Sports injury, car accident, falls, fights, injuries to the mouth
  • Age (most fractures occur in people over 50)
  • Excessive pressure when grinding and clenching teeth, worse with a bad bite



If you are wondering whether your bite is strong enough to break a tooth, the answer is yes. What happens under healthy conditions is that biting forces are evenly distributed. When teeth or jaws are misaligned or have a bad bite, they do not meet properly, resulting in concentrated pressure in some areas of the dentition. Despite the fact that our teeth are the hardest structures in our body, they are not built to support intense pressure. Teeth with root canal treatment or big restorations are even more likely to crack.

As an additional stress factor, teeth grinding and clenching can produce strong forces for several hours every night.

Thus, an uneven bite and teeth grinding can be a dangerous combination for your teeth.



Treatment depends on many factors, such as size and direction of the fracture, amount of tooth structure left, depth of the fracture inside the tooth, location of the tooth in the mouth, esthetic concerns and symptoms. The dentist will use visual exam and x-rays in order to decide the best solution. Small fractures in the back teeth might not require treatment other than polishing of the edges of the fracture.

In many instances, a filling can be all that is needed to restore a broken tooth. However, if the remaining dental structure is too weak, a crown can be necessary.

If the fracture went deep into the tooth and affected the root canal, endodontic treatment will be necessary to remove the damaged nerve tissue and restore it.  Depending on the direction of the fracture, it may involve the root (vertical fractures); in this case, extraction and replacement of the broken tooth is the only solution.



A tooth that cracks will never be the same again; hence, prevention is the best strategy. Crooked teeth can be cause of an uneven and unstable bite, potentially leading to tooth fracture. Even straight teeth can present an unbalanced bite in the back.

Correction of the bite is the most conservative, less invasive and integrative approach to promote health in the mouth and in the head and neck area (though a bad bite can even cause pain in the back and hips).

Correction of the bite creates ideal conditions for well distributed biting forces, thus decreasing the risk for fractures and other issues.

Gone are the days when braces were the only option for orthodontic treatment. Clear aligners, such as Invisalign, can create excellent results without cosmetic concerns. Because these devices are removable, it is easy to eat and clean the teeth. The trays are custom-made with the help of a computer program.

If you break a tooth, call your dentist immediately and get an emergency session. If your bite is causing you problems, clear aligner therapy can fix it without hassle.