Basic Information on Crack-lines

What is it? 

Crack-lines on teeth are a common finding during an examination and can be attributed to the combination of years of daily wear and tear, preference for hard food, teeth grinding or clenching during sleep, trauma, large fillings, stress and lifestyle habits.

In most cases, crack-lines are very fine and asymptomatic, and are not a problem. However, these fine cracks do not heal (just like cracks in glass) and has the potential to get worse over time. The early symptoms (which may take years to develop) are usually some sensitivity to something sweet or cold and occasional tenderness on biting something hard or tough.

Possible risks with crack-lines include dental decay and minor or major tooth fractures.

 
What treatment do we recommend? 

For the symptomatic crack-lines, treatment is recommended to resolve the symptom(s). However, please note that treatment outcomes are unpredictable and can range from resolution of the symptom(s) with a simple filling or complex treatment (such as root canal treatment and a crown), or possibly needing to extract the tooth if symptoms persist. This unpredictable outcome is due to the unknown extent of the crack-line(s) which we cannot assess prior to treatment and that the symptoms are a poor indicator of the severity of the cracks.


For the asymptomatic crack-lines, we face the same unpredictable outcomes. Our opinion here is that intervention may be advisable if the affected tooth is important for function or appearance, if there is obvious staining in the crack-line(s), or if the the crack-line(s) can be seen to extend towards the root of the tooth. 


Additional notes 

Some preventive measures which may help slow down crack propagation - avoid chewing on hard food or substances, wear an occlusal splint if you grind or clench your teeth during sleep, and wear a mouthguard if you participate in contact sports or engage in weightlifting.