Cracked tooth root photos may seem a little grisly, but I hope they will help to explain what happens under the gum when a tooth root is fractured under the gum.
A cracked tooth root spells the end of the road for a tooth. Once the root has fractured, there is no way to repair it, and the crack is a perfect home for bacteria to breed.
The symptoms of a cracked tooth root depend on how high (or low) the fracture line runs. If it is just under the gum, then you will notice some movement in the tooth. If you have a root canal crown (post crown) on the tooth, you may just feel as if the crown is working loose.
But if the fracture is higher up the root, well under the gum, then you will probably not notice any movement at all, but you will probably get a tender gum over the root, possibly with a small swelling or even a little bump on the gum.
Here are some cracked tooth root photos that I took recently. The gentleman had been having some problems with gum infections over the root. The X-rays did not show anything obvious. But I suspected a cracked root, due to the position of the little bump that kept coming up on the gum, despite several courses of antibiotics.
Then the tooth became a little loose. We made the decision to take the tooth out, and this is what we found:
The porcelain crown is the white bit to the right. The root is the dark part of the tooth on the left side. You can probably make out a fine crack running through the middle of the root.
Here, I have moved the tooth a little bit, and now you can see the crack more clearly.
And now the extent of the fracture is obvious. There was absolutely no hope of saving this tooth, which had a post crown (or "root canal crown") on it.
In this final photo, you can see what was hidden inside the root as I have turned the crown portion around to show the metal post inside the root canal.
This tooth root had been fractured for around 9 months. In that time, bacteria had set up a long-standing, chronic infection. When I removed the tooth, it had a very bad smell. Now that the tooth has been removed, the infection in the gum will settle down.
At other times, the crack in the root will be very obvious. Here are some more cracked tooth root photos of a patient of mine. In the first photo below, the cracked tooth was supporting a bridge.
After removing the bridge, I was able to take out the broken tooth. In the photo below you can see how the tooth was cracked clean in two! The mass of soft tissue between the roots was a reaction to the chronic long-term irritation caused by the crack.
In the right-hand portion of tooth, on the right-hand side, you can make out the pink/orange root filling material that the tooth had been treated with. That root is also a little shorter at the tip, (at the top of the photo), as it had root canal surgery some years ago.
Here are some photos of an upper molar tooth that was painful to bite on, but there was no visible crack.
I have moved the tooth a little to show you where the crack is.
Now you can see that the tooth is split in half, from top to bottom. Ouch!
Finally we can see that the tooth is completely broken, into two halves. There was no way of saving this tooth.
Here is another molar that cracked through one of the roots. In the first photo, it looks almost normal.
In the next photo, you can see where the crack is.
The photo below shows the cracked tooth root separated from the main part of the tooth.
In this cracked tooth root photo, you can see that the tooth nerve in the middle of the tooth is exposed.
I hope that these cracked tooth root photos have helped to show why a fractured root is a hopeless situation for a dentist. He has no option than to remove the tooth, and replace it with a bridge or an implant.