You look at your teeth in the mirror after thoroughly brushing and flossing. “Nice and bright,” you think as you start to pat yourself on the back and walk away. But then you notice something. It’s not that clear and you’re not positive what it is, but it looks like cracked enamel, smack dab right there in the middle of your smile where you and the rest of the world can see it.
You start to wonder: “Is this a broken tooth? Did I chip it? Is it going to get worse? … Or is it all my imagination? Maybe if I brush it, it will go away.”
We have both good and bad news for you, but mostly good.
First the bad: You can’t really brush it away. It’s there for good until you do something about it.
Now the good:
- This particular type of cracked enamel, referred to as a craze line, is mostly cosmetic. It’s likely not really a chip or broken tooth, and it doesn’t usually affect the roots of your teeth.
- It doesn’t really indicate that the issue will progress naturally – as long as you use some prevention techniques that we’ll talk about later on in this blog.
- You can probably see it more than others can, especially because you’re more likely to be looking closely at your teeth under bright lights in the bathroom. (Knowing that makes you feel better, right?)
- There are numerous ways to reduce the appearance of cracked enamel.
What is Cracked Enamel on Teeth, and How Do Dentists Treat It?
Craze lines are small, vertical, hairline cracks that only affect the outer surface of the enamel. This cracked enamel doesn’t really damage the tooth at all, and you shouldn’t feel any pain.
Craze lines on teeth are basically caused by natural wear and tear, almost like wrinkles or sunspots on your skin. These cracks in the enamel may be faint and unnoticeable at first but become more visible over time.
Specifically, craze lines can be caused by any number of the following:
- Habits like fingernail biting, tooth grinding/clenching, and regularly chewing on objects like pens
- An uneven bite due to misaligned teeth or an overbite/underbite
- Regularly crunching ice
- Tongue rings, specifically biting down on them or rubbing your tongue along your teeth, which can scratch or crack tooth enamel
- Alternating between hot and cold foods or drinks too quickly
The best way to prevent cracked enamel is to stop the above-named habits, clearly, but it’s also important to avoid foods and drinks that may weaken the enamel. Learn more about the effects of acids on your tooth enamel in our past blogs:
Craze Line Treatment
If you are uncomfortable with those craze lines, tooth whitening can help. It might not make the line disappear completely, but it can minimize its appearance. Other treatments may include bonding with a tooth-colored composite resin or placing a veneer or crown on top of the tooth.
A more significant option would be to have your teeth straightened with Invisalign, which would reduce the impact of an uneven bite. You may even wish to ask us to recommend an oral surgeon in the Grosse Pointe area who can help adjust your bite, which can improve your overall oral health.
One final note: Just in case the cracked enamel on your tooth is more significant than a craze line, ask Dr. Holtzman to check it out the next time you come in for a routine appointment. If you’re concerned about it or are feeling any kind of discomfort, call us to make a special appointment to get it analyzed sooner. It’s possible that it really is a deeper crack or chip. Either way, we can suggest ways to improve the appearance of the tooth.