The definition of a root fracture is exactly that — a fractured root.

In the tooth, of course.

Root fractures are horizontal cracks near the root of your tooth, occurring beneath the gum line (therefore requiring x-rays to find… when telltale pain and wiggly teeth first bring you to the dentist). The location of the fracture in relation to the ends of the tooth, the tip of the root (the apex) or the tips of the crown (the visible chewing surface), determines the lasting strength and health left in the tooth. The closer the fracture is to the root tip, the better the chances of a successful healing are. But the closer the fracture is to the crown, chances are it will not successfully heal on its own. A splint is also designed for this type of injury, to be worn temporarily as the tooth heals (if, of course, the fracture is minor enough to be left alone). If the pulp inside the tooth is damaged, a root canal may be required to disinfect and seal off the problematic area.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

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