Enamel – the thin outer covering of the teeth – is the hardest tissue in the human body. However, it can get damaged. It can vary in severity, but the mildest form is known as teeth craze lines. Many people think of them as “cracks.” However, they’re different.
Despite the fact that teeth craze lines are not always preventable, they can still be avoided. However, if you do end up with them, it’s important to understand this dental condition before seeking the right treatment.
What Are Teeth Craze Lines?
Craze lines in teeth are defined as benign, hairline fractures in the enamel. They extend vertically from the tooth ridges to the gum line. It should be noted that teeth craze lines do not penetrate the dentin or underneath the gum line.
These superficial cracks don’t essentially weaken the tooth structurally, but they can cause cosmetic concerns, especially in people who smoke or drink red wine, coffee and tea. They usually have a brown, yellow, or grey colour.
Keep in mind that craze lines don’t only form on the front surfaces of the front teeth; they can also form on the back. And it can affect the back teeth, as well. However, since they’re most visible on the front teeth, that’s what causes the most aesthetic problems.
Although they are not always that noticeable and are sometimes only visible on close inspection, they are still problematic for many people. You can have more than one of these cracks in a single tooth, affecting multiple teeth. As long as it’s a cosmetic issue, craze lines are not a dental emergency.
Should You Be Worried About Craze Lines?
According to the American Association of Endodontics (AAE), craze lines are “shallow,” painless, and only present an aesthetic problem. However, still, it’s important that you monitor your teeth craze lines because they can worsen over time, resulting in cracked teeth. AAE states that severe cracks can cause pulp infection and damage to the bone and gums. You can also experience the following:
Keep in mind that cracks that form on teeth with fillings on them are more dangerous. That’s because there’s a greater risk of bacteria and food particles getting trapped inside the tooth. This can lead to an abscess and even tooth loss.
What Causes Craze Lines In Teeth?
You can end up with craze lines teeth because of different reasons, which are as follows:
According to the AAE, craze lines are more common in adult teeth. According to a study published in the Acta Biomaterialia, older enamel is more susceptible to fracture because it has “lower resistance” to it. Therefore, craze lines can develop simply as a result of ageing.
Bad Oral Habits
Your teeth can easily chip or break if they experience too much pressure as a result of poor oral habits. These include:
- Chewing on pens and pencils
- Biting your fingernails
- Using your teeth as tools
- Using front teeth to bite down on hard foods like nuts, candies, and ice
If you commonly do one or more of these things, the chances of craze lines teeth increase.
According to Cleveland Clinic, teeth grinding, aka bruxism, can affect as many as 10% of adults and 15% of children. People gnash or grind their teeth when they’re nervous or under stress. However, this teeth grinding disorder can cause extensive wear and tear. The tooth structure can weaken over time, and the slightest force can result in hairline cracks in the enamel.
Your teeth can very easily break as a result of physical trauma. If the force is strong enough, it can shatter the tooth in its entirety. However, depending on the strength of the force, you can also end up with teeth craze lines.
If you have a cavity in your tooth, your dentist may recommend getting a filling. The size of the filling will depend on the size of the cavity itself. However, if the filling is too large, it can affect the structural integrity of the underlying tooth. The constant pressure can weaken it and result in the formation of craze lines. The problem is worsened if you have bruxism.
Sudden changes in the temperature can also end up cracking your teeth. It is similar to when a hot glass comes into sudden contact with cold water. The temperature changes cause stress, and the object can end up breaking or cracking. This can happen, for instance, if you’re having some hot soup, but because it’s too hot, you end up drinking cold water to soothe the mouth.
There are more than just a few problems that a bad bite can cause. It can make the teeth more vulnerable to cavities and gum infection. However, because the teeth meet each other at odd angles, they also experience more wear and tear. It can weaken them and result in these benign fractures.
Craze Lines Teeth vs Crack: What’s The Difference?
There’s a difference between craze lines and cracks. While craze lines are asymptomatic, cracks can result in pain, sensitivity, swelling, and infection. Unlike teeth craze lines, a cracked tooth is a dental emergency. For craze lines, people seek cosmetic treatments that can camouflage them, but for cracks, you might end up needing a root canal.
It should also be noted that the severity of the cracks can help in the diagnosis of other health problems. For instance, one study published in the American Journal of Dentistry found that there’s a relationship between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and cracks in the enamel.
The more severe the OSA, the deeper the cracks in the enamel. Interestingly, it’s also found that patients who had more severe cracks in their teeth were aged males with a higher body mass index (BMI).
How Are Teeth Craze Lines Detected?
In order to detect the craze lines, the dentist may perform an oral exam and take an X-ray. However, it should be noted that it’s difficult for an X-ray to always show these tiny fractures because light doesn’t fall on them in the right way. But there are other ways to see these.
The dentist may place a blue coloured dye on the teeth, which will end up staining the craze lines, making them more visible. More commonly, transillumination is used. In this, an intense beam of light is shined on the teeth. Its transmission is blocked where there are fractures, “illuminating” their presence.
Can Craze Lines Teeth Go Away On Their Own?
Unfortunately, craze lines in teeth are permanent. The tooth will not remineralize and repair itself. Once you have them, they’re going to stay as is or worsen over time, depending on your lifestyle and oral habits. However, you can seek treatments for these fractures so that they’re not prominent or visible anymore.
How To Fix Craze Lines In Teeth?
There are different treatments available for fixing craze lines in teeth. Keep in mind that there is no way to reverse them, so treatments are aimed at hiding them.
Veneers are thin laminates that cover the front surface of the teeth. The enamel of the teeth will be minimally shaved prior to their placement so that the veneers do not look bulky. They can last for more than a decade and can effectively hide the underlying craze lines teeth.
Another minimally restorative procedure is composite bonding. In this, a composite resin putty is moulded and shaped over the surface of the tooth. So, essentially, the dentist will place it on top of the crack, shape it and smooth the surface so that the teeth’ craze lines are hidden beneath it.
One reason why the hairline cracks become so problematic is that they take on a different colour as a result of staining. This makes them quite prominent. So, one way to deal with this problem is to get professional teeth whitening. Once the stains are cleaned out, the craze lines will not stand out anymore. You should keep in mind that teeth whitening will not fix these hairline cracks, but rather only hide them.
How To Prevent Craze Lines In Teeth?
In many instances, it is possible to prevent teeth craze lines from developing. For that, you need to do the following:
- Break the Bad Oral Habits – To begin with you need to identify the triggers for such behaviours. And to discourage yourself from continuing them, you can consider bitter liquid on your nails, cutting your nails short or chewing gum. As far as opening packages is concerned, you should use a knife or scissors.
- Wear A Night Guard – If you’re in the habit of grinding your teeth, you should consider wearing a night guard to protect your teeth. Also, identify the causes of this habit. If it’s stress-induced, you can consider meditation, exercises, or therapy.
- Wear A Mouthguard – To protect your teeth from physical trauma while playing contact sports (football, lacrosse, rugby, etc.), you should consider wearing a mouth guard.
- Quit Smoking – There are myriads of oral health problems that smoking can cause. It can also make the craze line teeth more prominent by staining them, so you should consider quitting it.
- Avoid Staining Foods – Foods like soy sauce, tomato paste, cherries, cola, coffee, tea, and red wine can all stain your tiny fractures and make them stand out. So, you should consider using a straw or consuming less of these foods.
- Practise Good Dental Hygiene – Keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy by brushing twice a day, flossing and using an antiseptic mouthwash. It’ll help keep the teeth strong and stain-free.
Teeth craze lines are not an oral health problem, but they can seem unsightly to many people. They can develop due to reasons like ageing and bad oral habits. Since it’s not possible to reverse them, you can seek cosmetic treatments to hide them. There are also some ways to prevent teeth craze lines from developing. They can help you in achieving the smile that you desire.