Understanding Split Tooth: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

By | September 5, 2023

A 68-year-old presented to outpatient department of Conservative dentistry with chief complaint of swelling around Lower first molar since 1 month

History revealed mandibular first molar was endodontically treated 2 months before and restored with amalgam. Clinical examination showed fracture of tooth. Diagnosis is chronic apical abscess associated with split tooth
















A split tooth is a vertical fracture or crack extending from the crown of the tooth down towards the root. It is a common dental emergency that requires prompt treatment. Split teeth are caused by a variety of reasons including trauma, grinding teeth, biting on hard objects, tooth decay, large fillings, or flawed dental work.

Symptoms of a split tooth may include pain when chewing, temperature sensitivity, swelling around the affected tooth, and even tooth fragments breaking off. The pain is often worse when pressure is applied to the tooth while eating and biting down. As the crack widens, the pain tends to increase dramatically.

Diagnosing a split tooth begins with a visual exam where the dentist looks for cracks on the enamel. They may wiggle the tooth to confirm looseness and test for movement that shouldn’t be there. Additional tests like x-rays, bite tests, or staining the tooth may be used to confirm a split below the gumline.

Treatment Options:

  1. Dental Bonding: In cases where the split is minor and limited to the enamel, dental bonding can be an effective treatment. A tooth-colored resin is applied to the cracked area, restoring the tooth’s appearance and function.
  2. Crown Placement: For more extensive splits that extend below the gum line, a dental crown may be recommended. This involves capping the damaged tooth with a custom-made crown to provide strength and protection.
  3. Root Canal Therapy: If the split reaches the tooth’s pulp, root canal therapy may be necessary to remove the infected or damaged tissue. Afterward, a crown is typically placed to reinforce the tooth.
  4. Tooth Extraction: In cases where the split is severe and the tooth cannot be saved, extraction may be the only viable option. Following extraction, options for tooth replacement, such as dental implants or bridges, should be considered.
  5. Preventive Measures: Maintaining good oral hygiene practices and using protective mouthguards during activities that pose a risk of dental trauma can help prevent split teeth.

In conclusion, a split tooth is a dental condition that demands prompt attention. Early detection and appropriate treatment are crucial to preserve the affected tooth and prevent further complications. Dentists play a pivotal role in assessing the extent of the split and recommending the most suitable treatment option. However, it is essential for patients to prioritize preventive measures to minimize the risk of encountering this challenging dental issue.

While these treatment options are generally accepted within the dental community, it’s worth noting that individual cases may vary. Consultation with a qualified dentist is essential to determine the most appropriate course of action based on the specific circumstances of each patient.