Readers ask, we answer: 

Should I be worried about little cracks in my teeth?

Those small vertical cracks in the enamel of your teeth are called craze lines. They are normal and common, often appearing as people age. Craze lines can be translucent, gray, yellow or brown. There is no need to be overly concerned about the appearance of craze lines, but they may increase the amount of visible staining on your teeth. That’s why they are frequently more noticeable in people who drink dark beverages or use tobacco products.

Craze lines are generally caused by:

  • Everyday wear and tear

  • Teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism)

  • Uneven bite

  • Nail biting

  • Chewing on ice or other hard objects

  • Gum disease

  • Teeth injury or trauma

Unlike cracked teeth, craze lines are merely surface cracks, so they usually don’t get worse over time. In addition, craze lines rarely require treatment to preserve the tooth and don’t cause pain, swelling or sensitivity.

You may be able to keep craze lines from darkening by avoiding tobacco products and dark-colored beverages like coffee, red wine, cola and black tea. Make sure not to chew on ice and other hard items, or use your teeth for anything other than chewing food, as you can worsen craze lines and damage teeth.

While craze lines are largely a harmless cosmetic concern, it’s still important to consult your dentist to find the cause and make sure they are not a more serious crack. If your craze lines are caused by bruxism or gum disease, your dentist can treat the underlying causes. If you are concerned about the look of craze lines, your dentist may recommend tooth whitening or cosmetic restoration options such as crowns or veneers. Be aware that cosmetic procedures may not be covered by your dental plan.

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