What Are Those Tiny Vertical Cracks In My teeth?

Over the course of your lifetime, it’s not surprising for your teeth to undergo a far amount of wear and tear. Sometimes, this gradual wear and tear can lead to some hard-to-avoid consequences. One of the most manifestations of this damage can be seen in the formation of small, sometimes almost imperceptible lines in your teeth. When these lines are vertical, they are known as “craze lines” and they generally don’t require you to find the closest emergency dentist nearby.

What Are Craze Lines and What Causes Them?

As you use your teeth, they tend to develop many little microscopic cracks in the hard outer surface of your teeth – the enamel. While cracks and tiny fissures in your enamel generally don’t cause too much damage or pain, they can contribute to staining on your teeth, which can be exacerbated by habits like coffee drinking or smoking.

Understanding how serious craze lines are requires understanding, to a certain extent, the underlying anatomy of your teeth. Basically, you have the dental pulp (inside the tooth), the dentin (which contains “pipelines” to your nerves), and the enamel (which protects your teeth).  Craze lines occur in the enamel, and do not extend into the dentin – which means that they probably won’t cause pain or sensitivity.

In most cases, craze lines occur due to some sort of stress that’s been placed on the tooth. In many cases, this happens due to a long history of gradual damage caused by chewing. Other times, craze lines occur due to a single event that places a great deal of stress on a given tooth or teeth. Some of the more common causes of these lines include:

  • Grinding your teeth
  • Using your teeth to untie a knot or open a bottle (and using your teeth as “tools” in general)
  • Sudden trauma or injury
  • Biting your nails
  • Repeated dental work

“So my teeth are cracked?”

Since craze lines are technically cracks, you might be thinking it’s time to see the nearest family dentist as soon as possible. But don’t worry too much. Because of the way your teeth are formed, the good thing to remember is that the enamel of your teeth is highly crack-resistant. In fact, it’s estimated that your tooth’s enamel is up to three times stronger than the microscopic cells that make up your teeth themselves. So in most cases, a crack in your enamel isn’t a major problem, and you shouldn’t even worry about it unless you begin to feel sensitivity and pain, or if the cosmetic change is something that bothers you.

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