If you’ve noticed small lines on your teeth, you may have what dentists call craze lines. These web looking imperfections should not be confused with a truly fractured tooth, which is painful. Craze lines are merely hairline cracks in tooth enamel. Though these lines on teeth are cosmetically displeasing, they are not particularly harmful to oral health unless they deepen and spread. Treating craze lines is totally optional.
Do craze lines weaken teeth?
Craze lines are usually harmless to oral health. Like tooth discoloration, craze lines make a person appear aged. If you value a youthful and attractive appearance there are cosmetic treatment options.
What causes craze lines?
Craze lines often occur naturally but may develop after dental trauma. They usually begin as a result of regularly biting and chewing foods, extreme temperature changes, or from a single traumatic event, like biting down on a hard object. Some dental procedures cause already weak tooth enamel to form these hairline cracks.
As you consume food and drinks over time, the lines will become more obvious because staining agents build up and are difficult to remove at home. Some lines are not wide enough to accommodate toothbrush bristles for cleaning. You can try using whitening pastes, strips, and mouthwashes to treat craze lines.
How to Avoid Craze Lines
The following things will put your teeth at a higher risk for craze lines:
- Nail biting
- Pencil nibbling
- Using your teeth as a tool (to crack nuts, open bottles and packages, etc.)
- Wearing oral jewelry (lip and tongue rings)
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Traumatic tooth injuries
Are craze lines on teeth dangerous?
Dental enamel is the protective outer layer of our teeth. It is the hardest substance that our bodies produce, and it’s the second hardest substance on the entire planet. Diamonds are the hardest, and they cut glass. So, while enamel is extremely durable, it is not impervious to cracking and staining.
“Crazing” is the same term used to describe the fine cracks that develop on well used, glazed ceramics. You’ve probably seen them on antique dinnerware. Just as these spiderweb like lines don’t often compromise the integrity of a ceramic dish, craze lines in enamel do not usually harm the structural integrity of teeth.
In rare instances, craze lines can expand enough to increase the chance of cavity formation. This is more likely if you are grinding your teeth. Wearing a mouth guard might be a good idea.
By attending regular visits with your dentist for checkups and dental cleanings, you won’t have to worry about a cavity developing without your knowledge. At every visit, your dentist can evaluate your teeth to determine whether early signs of tooth decay are evident. He can treat most topical tooth decay in the same visit. Deeper cavities or cracks may necessitate a return visit.
How to fix the lines on teeth
Craze lines are very shallow type of crack. You shouldn’t worry that you’re a sitting duck for tooth decay or deeper cracks if you notice them on your teeth. Craze lines cannot removed without drilling, but they can be treated. You have a few options that should be discussed with Dr. Fondriest at your appointment. He will provide you with details about each procedure and explain how your unique dentition would likely respond to the treatments. Understanding how we can correct craze lines will help you make the wisest decision for your situation.
Whitening to cover the enamel cracks
Tooth whitening is the easiest option for erasing or reducing the appearance of the fine lines. By simply bleaching the stains in craze lines, the cracks will become much less evident. Whitening does not fill the cracks or improve structural integrity of the affected teeth, of course.
If whitening is not effective for your craze line stains, consider tooth colored composite resin bonding or porcelain veneers. Each of these procedures has pros and cons, but both are effective for giving teeth a fresh appearance. Both treatments can also be completed in a single visit, in most cases, and they do add structural integrity to teeth.
Treating craze lines on teeth with composite resins
The primary concern for most people with craze lines is cosmetic. When food and drinks like coffee, red and purple berries, and wine stain the cracks of your teeth, craze lines can become visible to the naked eye. Many patients opt for teeth whitening to cover up their craze lines.
If your stains don’t respond to whitening, tooth colored fillings can help you restore your line free smile. Composite resin is the material we use for tooth colored fillings. By applying thin layers of resin over crazed teeth, a veneer forms to conceal imperfections. While composite bonding is effective and affordable, it usually lasts only five to ten years.
The vertical lines on teeth can be covered with veneers
Porcelain veneers, on the other hand, can endure for two decades or more. Veneers cost more than bonding, but they can correct more significant cosmetic flaws in addition to crazing. Veneers can be used if you have a fractured cusp or even if you have had root canal treatment.
Will insurance pay for treating craze lines on teeth?
Most likely, insurance will not pay all or part of the cost for treating craze lines. Insurance coverage usually applies only to health concerns. So if something negatively impacts the integrity of your teeth or oral health, then insurance pays. Craze lines have usually don’t cause deep cracks or cavities.