One of the primary causes of dangerous tooth fractures is shallow cracks in the tooth’s enamel. These cracks are known as craze lines and are relatively common amongst adults despite enamel being the hardest material in the human body.
Since craze lines don’t penetrate past the tooth enamel, they are painless and no major dental concern. However, they can become stained, which presents a cosmetic concern for some patients. Staining is more common in individuals who drink dark liquids such as coffee and tea, eat dark foods, or use smokeless tobacco or cigarettes.
Although rare, if left untreated, craze lines can become more severe and eventually impact the deeper layers inside the tooth. In advanced cases, the crack can penetrate the dentin, expose the pulp, and possibly fracture the tooth, putting the patient at risk of infection. At this stage, the patient’s general dentist and endodontist can evaluate the crack, determine the best course of treatment, and determine if the inside of the tooth is damaged. If the pulp is infected, the patient may require root canal therapy by an endodontist to save the tooth.
What is Enamel?
Enamel is the hard outermost layer of the tooth. It is the strongest material in the human body and is why we can eat the types of food we eat. The hard coating is what protects our teeth from damage caused by hard foods, candies, extreme temperatures, etc.
Craze Line Vs. Crack
A craze line is just one of several types of tooth cracks. It is the least severe type, and patients usually don’t see or feel them. The other types of cracks are more profound than craze lines and are known to cause pain, discomfort, and sensitivity. If the crack is advanced enough, it could weaken the tooth to the point of fracturing or simply expose the inner pulp to external bacteria. Once exposed, the pulp can become infected, and root canal therapy may be required. It is the potential for fracture and infection that makes some types of cracks more severe than craze lines.
What Causes Craze Lines?
Craze lines are the thin cracks in the tooth enamel caused by excessive bite force and general wear and tear over time. Craze lines are common in adults but are especially common amongst people who use excessive force when they chew, open containers with their teeth, clench their jaw, or do any other activity that applies an excessive force to their teeth. A misaligned bite and regular teeth grinding are also known to cause craze lines over time.
How to Prevent Craze Lines from Forming
The best way to prevent craze lines is to take preventative measures, practice good dental hygiene, and refrain from excessively chewing on hard items. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching significantly increase the likelihood of craze lines, so by controlling and stopping these habits, you can drastically reduce the chances of them forming.
How to Treat Craze Lines
Although cracks in the enamel do not cause severe damage to the tooth, they can alter the appearance. Visible craze lines cause some people significant concern, but thankfully the leading endodontists at Central Ohio Endodontics share some of the best methods they know to conceal and protect craze lines.
The first step we recommend is to purchase an at-home teeth whitening kit or visit a general dentist for whitening. A teeth whitening can reduce the staining and visibility of craze lines making them nearly invisible.
Another way to deal with unsightly cracks in the enamel is to cover them with veneers. A veneer is a thin layer of material that is placed over an existing tooth to improve the look and protect the surface from further damage. So, while veneers will not fix craze lines, they will conceal them and prevent them from getting worse.
If the cracks are more advanced, then a dentist may be able to fill them with a resin material. This process is known as dental bonding and is one of the most common ways cracks can be repaired in the tooth.
Craze Line & Tooth Crack Repair from Central Ohio Endodontics
Craze lines may be no big deal at first, but these minor cracks can turn into something significant if preventative measures are not taken. The experts at Central Ohio Endodontics can perform most major dental work, including crack repairs and root canal therapy. If you have a cracked tooth and are experiencing pain, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible. If further work is needed, you can count on Central Ohio Endodontics to get it done. Contact any one of our three convenient offices in central Ohio for more information.