We see a lot of patients with little craze lines in a tooth. If left untreated the lines can turn into a larger crack and cause a good amount of discomfort when chewing and ultimately frank pain. In many times it can cause catastrophic failure of a tooth requiring extraction and replacement with a dental implant or a dental bridge.
Small craze lines are relatively normal in our teeth. We use them, we are going to see wear and tear on them. If we have a filling, it flexes and shrinks with hots and colds and puts pressure on the tooth causing a craze line or a crack.
Many are asymptomatic. If the filling isn't leaking and the craze line is small, great, we monitor it. If the craze line turns into a larger crack undermining a weakened area of the tooth and we start to see color changes indicating the tooth could break we need to treat the area, asap.
Once we identify a crack in a tooth there is no telling how long the tooth has before it will propagate. The best thing to do is crown the tooth to house the crack inside and prevent it from spreading freely. If caught early, we can do this without needing to replace the filling material, if later, the filling material is removed the tooth built up. If we catch the tooth at the time where it is ultimately fracturing we can also do a surgical procedure called a crown lengthening to lengthen the height of the tooth and get around the fracture. This is the lease predictable of all the scenarios but has a good prognosis will early treatment.
Ideally, identifying problematic teeth early and treating them is the best option for a patient. If that can't be done, treating the tooth early allows for the best prognosis.
See your dentist to identify cracks before they become bigger issues!