When a tooth fractures it can often be restored and saved, but not always. Some fractured teeth require removal so we should try to minimize the risk.
How Teeth Fracture and Solutions for Treatment and Prevention
1. Traumatic injury- For example: sports or accidents
Solution: Unfortunately we can do little about accidental trauma. Sports injuries to the teeth can be reduced by wearing a protective mouth guard.
2. Substantial weakening after a root canal treatment
Solution: A weakened root canal tooth can have a crown placed on it.
3. Overloading the tooth structure with forces the tooth is not strong enough to support
Details: When a tooth is overloaded with force, it either fractures in the crown or the root of the tooth or chips away at the midpoint between the crown and root.
Solution: A night guard can help prevent this.
4. Very large fillings leaving very little supported tooth structure
Details: Large fillings leave very little remaining tooth structure. This is problematic. What tooth structure is left is weak and brittle. It frequently fractures during normal chewing.
Solution: Placing a crown or onlay on the tooth makes it stronger.
5. Decay (caries)
Details: Decay (caries) expands and grows under the enamel of a tooth. The enamel is undermined by the decay and will eventually fracture into the decay.
Solution: The solution here is to get a filling. Read The Most Common Reason People Think They Visit the Dentist (and What to Do About It) for more about caries.
6. Teeth with a post in the root canal
Details: Teeth with posts that are placed after root canal treatment have very thin remaining root structure. They often fracture.
Solution: Dentist should use a post only where absolutely necessary to retain a crown.
7. Teeth with large notches at the gum line
Details: Teeth with large notches at the gum line can have the crown topple off, leaving the root intact. This is common in seniors.
Solution: Prevention can include filling these notches, placing a crown on the tooth and wearing a protective bite splint.
8. Decay on the root of the tooth
Details: Decay on the root of teeth is a relatively new problem as our baby boomers are aging. People are living longer (keeping their teeth longer) and new problems are occurring as a result. Teeth with substantial root decay fracture at the gum line.
Solution: Treatment for root decay is a filling, however root decay is difficult to treat well and tends to recur. If a tooth can be strengthened with fluoride and other re-mineralizing products before root decay takes hold, a tooth will stand a better chance of survival.
If you have a fractured tooth, see your dentist as soon as possible. If you do not have a fractured tooth, take the preventions to make sure you can avoid them.