Can Cracks in Teeth Be Fixed?

Unless there is no alternative other than an extraction, a good dentist will always try to save a natural tooth whenever possible. 

Thanks to the advances made in dentistry in recent decades, there are many methods of treating damaged teeth — and even the most extreme cases can usually be repaired in some fashion. 

In the modern era, it is now no longer a question of can broken teeth be saved but instead focuses finding the most suitable method of doing so.

Two Parts

The method of treatment will vary from case to case but will usually hinge on the amount of damage done and the location of the crack, chip or break. 

When even the most minor of cracks appears on a tooth, it can appear to be insignificant and harmless. This may be true initially but left untreated the crack will inevitably spread — which will cause the tooth to split or break.

Although a fractured tooth is usually more common among children and older adults, it can happen to anyone and for a variety of reasons. The dentist’s first task is to examine the extent of the crack and determine which parts of the tooth are affected.

A tooth consists of two parts:

The crown. This is the portion of the tooth which is readily visible as it sits above the gumline.

The root. Beneath the tooth is the root which anchors the tooth to the jawbone.

In addition, the crown is sub-divided into three layers:

Enamel. The tooth’s outer hard covering.

Dentin. The middle section of a tooth between the enamel and pulp.

Pulp. The soft tissue at the center of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels.

A fracture or crack can affect any or all these segments of a tooth — and even the most minor of cracks may be more harmful than it appears. This occurs when damage penetrates deep into the tooth or runs down under the gum. 

This is why all cracks, chips or fractures should be brought to a dentist’s attention as soon as possible and never simply ignored.

The Usual Suspects

Sporting injuries are one of the biggest causes of fractures and cracks. When playing any contact sport or enjoying activities where a blow to the face is likely, it is always advisable to wear suitable protective gear such as a helmet or mouthguard.

There are, however, other causes and habits that can be harmful:

Hard foods. Chewing on ice, hard candy and even chewing gum can cause cracks.

Teeth grinding. Also called bruxism, grinding the teeth is a habit that regularly causes tooth fractures.

Fillings. Large dental fillings weaken the tooth’s structure making cracking or chipping more likely.

Age, of course, is also a contributory factor as the teeth are not as strong as before –vand people over the age of fifty are susceptible to suffering tooth damage. This, however, need not be the case if proper dental care is taken over the years and proper dental hygiene maintained.

Tooth fractures are most commonly associated with the front upper teeth and those at the back of the lower jaw. Usually only one tooth will be affected, but in cases of trauma or a sporting accident the fractures can affect multiple teeth.

Degrees of Damage

The treatment for cracks, chips and breaks will depend entirely on the type of fracture and the degree of damage done. There are five main categories of tooth fracture:

Crack. This is a crack that runs along the surface of the tooth and may also extend down into the root.

Craze Line. Smaller and thinner than a crack, craze lines are also called hairline cracks and appear on the tooth’s outer enamel.

Fractured Cusp. Not usually painful (or mildly so) a fractured cusp is a crack formed around a filling.

Split. This is a serious fracture that basically splits a tooth in two from the enamel to down below the gum.

Vertical root fracture. Running from below the gum and up into the enamel, a vertical root fracture may have no noticeable symptoms but is prone to infection.

Leaving any crack or fracture unseen by a dentist and untreated is not the correct path to follow — as the problem will not miraculously disappear but will, in fact, only worsen over time.

Treatment Options

There is no single universal method for treating a damaged tooth. The dentist will decide on the most suitable treatment option using various criteria including the location of the crack and the amount of damage caused.

In the majority of cases, the treatment used will be one of the following or a combination thereof:

Crown. If the tooth is too severely damaged, the dentist may simply cover it with a dental crown.

Veneer. A thin porcelain (or plastic) covering called a veneer may be used to cover the affected area.

Root Canal. If the crack extends into the tooth’s pulp a dentist may opt for root canal treatment.

Bonding. This is simply a plastic resin used to fill a crack or fracture and color-matched to the original tooth.

The last, and most extreme, treatment option is an extraction. This is a last resort and only used when the damage to the tooth, root and nerves are damaged beyond repair or cure.

Having an extraction is not the end of the world as the lost tooth can be replaced with a permanent implant or even a false tooth. However, such an outcome is to be avoided if possible. 

The best method of achieving this is to follow a good dental health regimen and visiting the dentist on a regular basis – so the crack can be caught early when it is most easily treated.


Dr Siddharth Wandrekar - Practice principal (GDC No. 170074)

BDS – India 2004, MSc Prosthetic Dentistry 2007 (London), MJDF Royal College of Surgeons England

Sidd has been with Brunel Dental Practice since 2011 and took over the practice in September 2016 after the previous principal retired.

Sidd qualified in 2004 from one of the prestigious Universities in India. He came to the UK and meritoriously obtained a Masters in Prosthetic Dentistry from King’s College, London. He then spent a year in a hospital environment being involved in major surgeries such as head and neck cancer, correction of jaw fractures and complex surgical removal of teeth. He moved to work as an Associate in Private and NHS practices in Scotland before joining Brunel Dental Practice.

Sidd enjoys dentistry because he can help everyone to achieve good dental health and overall well-being in a caring and comfortable environment.

He is married with two boys who keep him on his toes. He loves playing tennis and represents the local club in the regional Leagues. He loves to travel and visit offbeat places. He also has a keen interest in current affairs.

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