Cemental tear is a special kind of root surface fracture, contributing to periodontal and periapical breakdown. However, it is a challenge for doctors to diagnose, resulting in delayed or improper treatment. We reviewed the predisposing factors, location, radiographic/clinical characteristics, diagnosis and treatments of cemental tears. From the literature, patients with cemental tear were mainly males, over 60 year-old. Possible predisposing factors include gender, age, tooth type, traumatic occlusal force and vital teeth. Cemental tears were common in upper and lower anterior teeth, single or multiple, and can be present in cervical, middle and apical third of roots. Morphology of cemental tears can be either piece-shaped or U-shaped. Clinically, cemental tear shows a unitary periodontal pocket and signs/symptoms mimicking localized periodontitis, apical periodontitis and vertical root fractures. Treatment of cemental tears include scaling, root planning, root canal treatment, periodontal/periapical surgery, guided tissue regeneration, bone grafting, and intentional replantation. Recurrence of cemental tear is possible especially when the fracture involves root apex. Extraction is recommended for teeth with poor prognosis. In conclusion, cemental tears can involve both periodontal and periapical area. Dentists should understand the predisposing factors and clinical features of cemental tears for early diagnosis/treatment to prevent bone loss/tooth extraction.
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