Don’t panic! Most often these vertical lines are not serious cracks, just shallow cracks referred to as “craze lines”. Craze lines only affect the outer enamel of your teeth making them merely a cosmetic imperfection. They are most commonly a result of too much bite force (e.g. teeth clenching or grinding, biting fingernails, etc.).
Although craze lines are no cause for concern, they can become more noticeable over time as stains get trapped in them. Just having your bi-annual teeth cleaning at your dentist appointment can help polish away the appearance of craze lines. If they need more attention you can use a whitening treatment to lighten them. And of course, for the stubborn stains, there is always the option of veneers to give you bright, beautiful and unblemished teeth.
A “real” cracked tooth (i.e. a deep crack that cuts through the enamel to the inner layers) is much more serious than superficial craze lines. Cracks that reach the dentin or nerve of the tooth can compromise your oral health, letting bacteria in and leading to infection; but a serious cracked tooth won’t usually go completely unnoticed.
Indicators that you might have a cracked tooth are:
- Pain when chewing
- Pain from pressure of biting or releasing bite
- Sensitivity or pain when exposed to extreme temperature
- The crack is growing
- Decay is forming in the crack
If you experience any of the above symptoms you need to consult your dentist right away. The treatment chosen for a cracked tooth depends on the location and severity of the crack. It’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible to prevent any further damage and figure out the right treatment option for you.