Vertical Root Fracture

Most of the time, our teeth are able to withstand the very strong biting forces that are generated through normal chewing.  However when teeth have been weakened by decay or trauma, the biting forces can sometimes cause the teeth to break.  One common type of breakage is referred to as a vertical root fracture (VRF).  This can happen to teeth that have been root-treated and crowned.  Vertical root fractures occur because of gradual fatigue caused by stresses within the root, and may take many years to develop.  Unfortunately a tooth with a VRF cannot be retained and should be extracted.  The picture below shows  an extracted tooth with a VRF that appears as a fine crack in the root (indicated by the arrows).  Keeping a tooth with a VRF risks infection in the surrounding gums and jaw bone.  So in most instances, a tooth with a VRF should be extracted without undue delay.

A number of replacement options for teeth with VRF can be considered, including a dental bridge or a dental implant.  Your periodontist will discuss the best replacement option with you.

Vertical root fracture