Yellow teeth, gum disease and tooth loss may conjure up images of aging, yet many people are unaware that as they age, they are more likely to develop crown crazes — unsightly hairline cracks in tooth enamel, reports the Academy of General Dentistry.
“Crown craze candidates are usually in their mid-thirties,” says Barbara A. Rich, DDS, FAGD, spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. “Years of wear and tear and bad chewing habits creates extra pressure and cause crazes to form, especially in teeth with older, large fillings.”
This condition develops over time, happens to all teeth, but crazes are more apparent on the front upper teeth, where staining is more likely, as a thin brown line.
“It’s not just a cosmetic problem”, warns Dr. Rich. If the craze is deep enough in the enamel, the tooth may develop some sensitivity, or a molar cusp can break when extra pressure is exerted.
To avoid forming crazes that may instigate dental accidents, Dr. Rich advises her patients to stop chewing on popcorn kernels, hard candy, ice cubes or chocolate chips. “It’s quite common to develop a craze when repeatedly chewing hard objects.”
Many patients are not aware of this problem until the dentist points it out with a mirror or intra-oral camera, says Dr. Rich. To test patients, the dentist has the patient bite on the tooth or use an instrument that can isolate which area causes pain.
If the craze does not cause discomfort or pain, the dentist will monitor the tooth at each dental visit and have the patient keep a watchful eye on the tooth and report changes. If the crack goes to the inner surface the patient may consider a crown in order to restore tooth strength.