Vertical root fracture

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Vertical root fracture

Vertical root fractures are a type of fracture of a tooth. They can be characterized by an incomplete or complete fracture line that extends through the long axis of the root toward the apex. Vertical root fractures represent between 2 and 5 percent of crown/root fractures. The greatest incidence occurs in endodontically treated teeth, and in patients older than 40 years of age.

The occurrence of a complete vertical root fracture is often catastrophic for the individual tooth as tooth extraction is usually the only reasonable treatment.

Vertical root fracture is more likely where teeth have undergone extensive prior treatment. It is thought that excessive removal of dentine during procedures such as root canal treatment weakens the tooth. For this reason excessive canal shaping should be avoided. Fracturing may be caused by excessive forces placed on the tooth, such as during compaction of gutta-percha during the obturation phase of endodontics. Trauma can also cause crack formation.


Symptoms include: Short duration pain on biting, sensitivity to temperature change. Fracture lines may be visibly evident. Transillumination may reveal unseen fractures. Radiographic changes such as radiolucencies in the region of the fracture may be seen.


Vertical root fracture can be a difficult diagnosis to make where the fracture line is not evident.

Use of cone-beam computerized tomography has been described.[1]


  1. ^ Kamburoğlu K, Murat S, Yüksel SP, Cebeci AR, Horasan S (February 2010). "Detection of vertical root fracture using cone-beam computerized tomography: an in vitro assessment". Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 109 (2): e74–81. doi:10.1016/j.tripleo.2009.09.005. PMID 20031454.

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