If you are the type of person who pays close attention to your oral health and the way the teeth look, then you may be concerned when you notice cracks forming all across the dental enamel. However, these types of formations are considered normal and a sign of general wear and tear across the mouth. If you are confused about these lines, why they form, and why you may just be noticing them now, then keep reading.

What Are Craze Lines?

Craze lines are the small lines that you see along the outsides of the teeth. The cracks may be short or long, or they may form a pattern across the teeth that looks similar to the scaly skin across a snake or an alligator. While the lines may seem as though they indicate a serious dental issue, this is not the case. Craze lines are a superficial problem. The lines are not deep and usually only extend through a portion of the dental enamel. The cracks are hairline in nature and do not come close to reaching through the 2.5 millimeter thick tooth enamel.

Almost everyone has craze lines in their teeth to some extent. These lines form as your teeth are subjected to a great deal of biting force. Biting force causes hundreds of pounds of pressure to be exerted against the teeth. Pressure and stress have been recorded as high as 270 pounds per square inch against the molars in the back of the mouth. 

The pressure against the teeth causes stress fractures to form in the dental enamel. Tooth enamel is an extremely hard mineralized material. The enamel contains a lot of the same minerals as your bones, but enamel is a great deal stronger than bone. Enamel is also completely inflexible, and this inflexibility causes the material to crack when exposed to strong pressure. The cracks are a way for the dental enamel to retain pressure under high levels of shear and compressive force.

If you feel that the craze lines have suddenly appeared, then this is likely untrue. However, you may just be noticing the problem due to the way the lines hold food debris and staining agents. When the lines are free of debris, then they are invisible. They will darken though once the lines fill in with plaque, tartar, or coloring agents from your food.

How Can Craze Lines Be Fixed?

The appearance of craze lines is not considered a dental problem that needs to be repaired. In fact, craze lines cannot be erased or removed from the teeth. Cracks will remain in the tooth enamel once they form and they cannot be filled in. While this is true, you can work with your dentist to make the lines appear less visible. This requires the removal of the debris from the enamel cracks during a tooth whitening.

Since craze lines are typically quite shallow, strong whitening agents are rarely needed to help resolve the problem. Low and medium strength whitening solutions can easily force the debris out of the lines to make them less visible. These lower strength treatments are also ideal id you want the keep the teeth from becoming sensitive. 

Once a whitening treatment is completed, you can prevent the craze lines from gathering more debris by brushing your teeth thoroughly and by avoiding some of the foods and beverages that can stain the teeth. Coffee and tea are two of the worst offenders that cause dental staining. Wine, tomato sauce, and cigarette smoke can cause staining too. Another good way to keep the craze lines from darkening is to have the teeth professionally cleaned about every six months. Tartar is yellow in color and can make the lines appear quite dark. 

To learn more, contact clinics like All About Smiles.