Is it Really a Vertical Root Fracture?

OK, we’re going to get a bit technical here and explain the difference between the commonly confused vertical root fracture and cracked tooth. Dentists like to be specific, and an accurate diagnosis will assist in determining appropriate treatment.

The reference for this is the American Association of Endodontics publication, “Cracking the Cracked Tooth Code: Detection and Treatment of Various Longitudinal Tooth Fractures”

A tooth with a crack that starts in the crown of the tooth and extends towards the apex is considered to be a cracked tooth. Further progression of the crack to the apex, resulting in separation of the crack is defined as a split tooth.

Endospot cracked tooth

The Cracked Tooth on the left, progressing to Split Tooth on the right. We see this in virgin teeth, restored teeth and endodontically treated teeth.

When we discuss a vertical root fracture, VRF, we are talking about a crack that starts in the root of the tooth. It doesn’t have to start at the apex. Mostly, VRF are associated with previously root filled teeth.

Vertical Root Fracture

The Vertical Root Fracture – a different presentation to the Cracked Tooth. This is more common in endodontically treated teeth than in teeth that have had no endodontic treatment.

So there you have it. No more incorrect diagnoses. Go here for more on how to diagnose cracked teeth.

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