If you’re brushing your teeth in front of the mirror one day and notice thin vertical cracks in your teeth, do not immediately panic. There’s a difference between a dangerously cracked tooth – which is painful and must be fixed – and craze lines which are a type of damage that is more of a surface or cosmetic problem. In this blog we will explain what that difference is.
What Is a Cracked Tooth?
There are multiple types of tooth cracking. They range from the harder to identify cracked tooth syndrome to a split tooth which has visibly cracked in half. What makes a cracked tooth serious is that the damage cuts through the outer enamel and into the inner layers of the tooth, exposing the dentin and nerves to further harm. If left untreated, a cracked tooth can become painful or infected and affect your oral health and even your general health.
How Are Craze Lines Different?
Craze lines are a type of tooth cracking, but they are not deep cracks. They are shallow, vertical cracks that only affect your outer tooth enamel. Usually you can only see them if you’re looking closely at your teeth in a mirror. Because the deeper layers of your tooth are not damaged, craze lines aren’t painful, and they aren’t dangerous.
Typically, your teeth suffer this kind of minor damage from use. Teeth wear down from years of chewing or from biting down too hard. You may be clenching your teeth or grinding them at night. You can also get them from ripping open objects with your teeth or biting your nails.
While you can stop biting your fingernails, you probably can’t completely avoid getting craze lines. They come with age and time. You can wear a mouthguard at night to stop yourself from grinding your teeth, though.
While craze lines aren’t cause for alarm, that doesn’t mean people like how they look. If you are a regular coffee drinker or smoker, those tiny lines will become further discolored and noticeable with time. Keeping your regularly scheduled dental checkup appointments will help mitigate the discoloration, but if the craze lines become too stained, you can also opt for tooth whitening or dental veneers to make your teeth look bright and beautiful again.
The bottom line is, if you see light cracks in your teeth, don’t worry unless you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Pain when you chew or bite down
- Tooth sensitivity or pain when you drink cold or hot beverages or foods
- Further or deeper cracking
- Tooth decay forming in the crack
Any of the above are cause to call your dentist and make an appointment. Of course, the sooner you deal with any tooth problem, the easier and less expensive it will be to fix. When you ignore pain or discomfort, you can only avoid dealing with it for so long before it becomes too painful or ugly to ignore. Call your dentist before that happens.