A fracture is a crack in the tooth that can run in the visible and even the non-visible portion of the tooth. It is a thin breaking of the tooth, and happens as a result of dental trauma. Fractures can be painful, but are not always so, however, they always constitute a dental emergency, and emergency treatment should be sought if a tooth is cracked or fractured, even if no pain is felt. This is because the tooth structures will be exposed to oxygen and to bacteria in the mouth, and this can cause infections and swelling. Parts of the tooth may become dislodged or even lost as a result of fractures.  

The Different Kinds Of Fracture

Fractures are differentiated based on where the fracture occurs, and how much of each part of the tooth they affect. 

The most basic type of fracture is when a small bit of the enamel becomes fractured, but the tooth is still intact. None of the dentine is exposed, and usually no pain is felt at all. The tooth should not be mobile, and all its parts should not be moving at all. The way to fix this type of fracture is to cover the crack caused with a glass ionomer spray, after which composite resin may be used to fill the crack. These types of cracks in the teeth are usually lateral, running around the tooth in a ring, but they can run along the length of the tooth as well. 

The second type of fracture also occurs on the visible, crown portion of the tooth, and may also be lateral or diagonal, but this one is a bit deeper, affecting the dentine, and leaving some of it exposed, but not going deep enough to affect the pulp. This can be taken care of in the same way, with disinfectant, rinsing and glass ionomer applied to the crack to seal it off. Restorative material always needs to be placed on these types of cracks.

The third type of cracks are the ones that expose the pulp. In this case part of the tooth pulp needs to be amputated and scooped out, disinfected, and only after this has been done can the glass ionomer and restorative filling be placed on the tooth. This type of fracture will always result in partial loss of the tooth, and a crown or at least some sort of dental restoration will be needed. 

Fractures can also run from the bottom of the tooth up under the visible portions and can crack as far as the tooth root. This type of fracture will result in increased tooth mobility for at least part of the tooth. If this happens, the part of the tooth that is mobile will need to be removed, and the use of a crown will become all but inevitable.