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Can Teeth Grinding Cause Craze Lines On Teeth?

8 min read
by JS Dental Lab |

When we picture teeth with healthy enamel, we picture smooth, straight, pearly whites that dazzle when you smile. They’re the #goalteeth we all want to have.

So when you suddenly see tiny cracks appearing on the surface of your teeth, it’s normal to be concerned. 

These little vertical “craze lines” are superficial hairline cracks that seem translucent, yellow, or gray. You probably can’t feel them, but you know they’re there.

Craze lines can be a natural part of aging due to wear and tear on the teeth. They may also come from chewing rigid, non-food items. 

However, there may also be a cause pertaining to your oral health, such as a teeth grinding habit.

This guide gives you the rundown on craze lines, teeth grinding, and how to get back to your #goalteeth when you find cracks on your enamel.

Note: JS Dental is a provider of night guards, specially fitted dental appliances worn overnight to prevent or reduce teeth grinding. Mouth guards usually refer to sporting mouth guards, but they are often used interchangeably. In this article, when we say mouth guard, we are really referring to the night guard for teeth grinding and clenching.

What Are Craze Lines?

Far from a dangerous diagnosis, craze lines are relatively harmless superficial cracks in your teeth. Depending on your enamel, they show up as vertical lines that can be translucent, gray, yellow, or brown.

Chances are, you see the lines more than anyone else does. Unless you point them out to someone around you, they’re probably not noticeable.

There are a few habits that make these hairline cracks more pronounced. If you drink a lot of coffee, tea, dark sodas, or red wine, your teeth will stain easier. Tobacco users also fall into this category. 

Craze lines open the enamel just enough to make staining more likely and the cracks more obvious. 

Worried that your usual dental routine just isn’t cutting it? Up your oral healthcare by following our Routine Dental Care Checklist!

The Causes of Craze Lines, In a Nutshell

Craze lines are simply a natural part of getting older for most of us. Wear and tear on our teeth from eating, biting, and pressure can cause cracks in tooth enamel by middle age, and those lines continue to appear gradually over time.

Other factors speed up this natural procession or make it worse. If you have misaligned teeth, you have an uneven bite that puts more pressure on some teeth. That extra stress — you guessed it — brings the small cracks you see.

Chewing on ice cubes, trying to open bottles with your teeth, or engaging in that long-term nail-biting habit are recipes for craze lines. Trauma or injury to your teeth might also be the culprit.

However, if it’s not nature’s course taking action, it’s most likely due to those teeth grinding problems we mentioned earlier. We’ll detail that while also addressing your concerns about craze lines and your dental hygiene.

Can Bruxism Cause Craze Lines?

Bruxism is also a common cause of craze lines. Better known as teeth grinding, this condition occurs when you unconsciously grind or clench your teeth. There’s a lot of potential bite force when you brux, which may cause the appearance of craze lines.

If you’re starting to see those unwanted hairline cracks appear on your teeth, it could be from your teeth grinding habit. 

The best news about craze lines is that you can stop them from getting worse or spreading. 

Can Craze Lines Affect Your Dental Health?

A woman listening to her dentist who is holding her teeth x-rays

Superficial cracks on the enamel are cosmetic. They likely won’t affect your oral health, so if your lines are simply an annoying visual disturbance, remember, you see them more than anyone else does.

In some cases, the damage goes beyond the enamel, opening your teeth up to staining from certain foods and beverages. That’s cosmetic, too, but it also lets in the less-than-healthy complication of bacteria. 

When Bacteria Are Thriving, It’s Not Good for Us

These invisible (to the naked eye) microorganisms can get in through the cracks, increasing the speed of tooth decay and other dental issues. Bacteria can get deeper into the enamel, resulting in gingivitis, periodontitis, and other dental conditions. 

If you suspect your craze lines aren’t superficial, talk to your dentist. 

This is particularly important if you’ve had trauma to your mouth or face before noticing the lines. That could mean you have a crack that goes deeper than you realize.

Does Teeth Grinding Cause Cracks in the Teeth?

Bruxers with hairline fractures in their teeth have a double concern. Those small, vertical lines can cause you to grind more, resulting in loose teeth and weakened bones.

Bruxism causes the jaw muscles to clench tightly, then grind the upper and lower teeth together.

You’re often sleeping or otherwise unconscious of the action when you brux. So, the bite force your jaw can exert is much stronger than it would typically be. The pressure mixed with clenching causes craze lines and eventual cracks.

More About Bruxism

Teeth grinding behaviors, either awake or asleep, are predominantly due to stress. Until you get the problem under control, you can use a night guard to minimize the damage.

Other side effects of bruxism include:

You can reduce the damage by wearing a night guard from JS Dental Lab. But the clenching and grinding won’t go away without fixing the reason behind the stress.

Related: 5 Possible Jaw Pain Origins

What Happens When Craze Lines Get Worse?

Typically, these minor hairline fractures don’t go away, but they don’t worsen, either.

If you don’t take care of why they exist (for example, using a custom-fit nightguard or quitting the bad habit), the crack can go beyond the surface enamel. When it becomes a fracture that causes significant pain, now you have cracked tooth syndrome.

Cracked Tooth Syndrome 

A crack in the tooth that is more than superficial breaks the surface plane of the enamel. It starts at the crown (the visible part of your tooth) and spreads through the rest of the tooth structure. 

At some point, that crack reaches the gum line. It connects with the nerves and pulp, which turns painful fast.

Symptoms of Cracked Tooth Syndrome

Have you felt discomfort or pain when eating or drinking cold foods and beverages? Has it been going on for a few months, and it comes and goes without warning?

If so, you could have cracked tooth syndrome.

The pain is called “rebound pain” and happens when you release bite pressure, eat surgery foods, or grind your teeth. You might not be able to see tooth cracks or figure out which one is causing your trouble, but you know it’s there!

Regardless of the reason, you shouldn’t have pain when eating and drinking. 

Head to the dentist to find out if you’re dealing with a cracked tooth or another complication. The sooner you address the dental issues, the easier they are to fix. 

Dentists usually suggest a root canal to treat deeply cracked teeth. If you can avoid that with basic dental care, you’ll be much happier.

Can You Prevent or Fix Craze Lines?

Dentists with patient

If those vertical cracks in your outer enamel make you crazy, there’s hope! You can prevent them from worsening, and you might be able to fix them entirely.

Worrying about getting craze lines won’t make them go away. But taking proactive measures will help reduce the likelihood of them showing up any time soon or hide them.

Prevention and Correction

There is a famous saying coined by Benjamin Franklin that could easily be about craze lines, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” 

Unlike fine lines and wrinkles, there is no miracle face cream to apply to prevent dental lines. You use your teeth every day, so wear and tear are imminent. The goal is to limit craze lines from forming when you can.

Night Guards

To start, use a night guard to reduce the damage from teeth grinding. Make sure it’s a custom-made guard from a reputable lab like JS Dental Lab

If the oral appliance you use doesn’t fit your mouth correctly, it can increase your symptoms. Boil-and-bite and over-the-counter guards are cheap but aren’t always comfortable and effective.

JS Dental Lab’s experts help you determine if you need a guard that’s soft, extra durable, somewhere in the middle, or a hybrid. They design the guard to protect all your teeth’s nooks and crannies.

Bad Habits Be Gone

On top of the essential night guard, you’ll want to quit any bad habits like nail-biting, tobacco products, and eating ice. Would you rather the immediate gratification of that bite or the long-term avoidance of cracks in your teeth?

Stick to regularly scheduled dental visits and your daily excellent dental hygiene habits, and you’re on track to avoid craze lines.

Whitening Treatments

The lines in your enamel are permanent, but you can hide them. If they’re visible because of stains, use whitening strips or toothpaste. This evens out the discoloration, and the cracks will become barely noticeable.

To avoid tooth sensitivity, ask your dentist about professional whitening treatment options. As with non-professional quality night guards, an OTC teeth whitening kit can damage the enamel of your teeth. 

The chemicals in the treatments aren’t always professional-grade or could have dangerous levels of the active ingredient hydrogen peroxide.

Veneers

Porcelain veneers are another option if the cracks are only on your front teeth. Veneers are wafer-thin shells that bond to the enamel of your tooth. 

They slide right over the front, covering up the flaws that make you unhappy with your smile. There are other tooth veneers, but porcelain is the most durable and long-lasting.

Composite Resin Fillings

One last suggestion is a composite resin filling. This bonding agent is part of the many innovative advancements in dentistry. Resin gets into the second layer of enamel (the dentin) and seals the crack, like using caulk in a window or door.

Before the process starts, your dentist will mix the resin to match your enamel perfectly. They will use special tools to file your enamel, so it’s a little rough. The liquid resin will adhere to the enamel when they apply it in a paint-like fashion over the cracks. 

Once it dries, the dentist files down the resin and your enamel until you have a perfectly smooth, crack-free tooth.

Discover more: Can You Use Essential Oils for Teeth Grinding?

Conclusion

You work hard to keep your teeth healthy and smile bright. When it looks good, you show it off more!

The last thing you want is to have hairline cracks on your teeth, although most of us will end up with them sooner or later. It may be a part of human nature, but you don’t have to put up with it without a fight.

Whether your craze lines are from grinding, bad habits, or aging, you can prevent and fix them. Start with a custom-fit night guard from JS Dental Lab, then work on the next steps. Get rid of those craze lines and back to your #goalteeth fast!

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