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What Are “Craze Lines”?

Posted in cosmetic dentistry, and Dental Care

Craze Lines Not a Threat to Dental Health

Craze lines are perfunctory or superficial, vertical lines that develop in tooth enamel, commonly associated with aging. They can sometimes be called “hairline cracks” or “superficial cracks” as they are typically insignificant and pose no immediate threat to dental health. Different from “Cracked Tooth Syndrome” they are not actual cracks in your teeth and nothing has compromised the protective layer of enamel.

What They Look Like

Often hard to see, craze lines are vertical translucent lines on the tooth surface. They can also be slightly discolored appearing grey, yellow, or brown. Most people only notice them if they go looking for them. Upon noticing you have craze lines you my find them ugly, but they are extremely hard to spot even at a few feet away. Therefore, you do not need to worry about a friend noticing them during conversation. One drawback is that craze lines make it more difficult to whiten teeth. Teeth with these lines tend to stain easier, especially combined with tobacco use, and common stain promoting drinks (coffee, red wine, etc.). – See examples on Google image search.

The Cause

Wear and tear is often the main cause. That is why they usually only show up as we age. Think of the amount of pressure that is put on our teeth during years of chewing hard foods. But there are other things linked to the appearance of craze lines. Misaligned teeth can result in higher pressures for specific teeth rather than evenly distributing it. Bruxism, or grinding teeth in your sleep can also bring them on early. Also, a habit of chewing hard foods like ice, nuts, or even biting your fingernails, over time can produce craze lines in your enamel. Tooth impact injuries can also be a cause, or any trauma to your teeth.

Their Nature

Technically these lines are a minor type of cracked tooth. Unlike more severely cracked teeth or cracked tooth syndrome, craze lines rarely progress or cause symptoms. They are more of a cosmetic concern than anything. There is no dental procedure in place aimed at preserving a tooth with craze lines as it is not necessary. If you notice what appears to be a crack in your tooth but you have no symptoms of a cracked tooth, (sensitivity, pain, or swelling) it is likely a craze line, not a crack. If that is the case, you need not worry. It does not mean that your tooth is weakened or about to crack.

A Small Possibility

In some cases, craze lines can make a tooth more prone to cavities as they slightly change the shape of a surface giving bacteria a place to hold on. This opening for bacteria is usually more opportunistic on the back teeth as it very rarely happens on front teeth. Brushing your teeth regularly and having a good dental routine will stop any chance of any negative effects from craze lines. Of course, if you notice any change in a tooth’s appearance you should mention it to your dentist at your next visit.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Accordingly, always seek the advice of your Dentist or other healthcare providers regarding a dental condition or treatment.