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Hairline Crack in Veneer

A hairline crack in a dental veneer is an early indicator of an eventual veneer fracture, either shortly afterwards or if you're lucky, months later.


damaged porcelain dental veneers

The only viable treatment for this condition is to replace the laminate with a new one and there is no alternative. If left alone it'll eventually crack and fall off, leaving you with a cosmetic dental emergency.


What it looks like

A dental veneer with a hairline crack looks like a faint line that runs across the surface of the porcelain. Most commonly it runs vertically but in rare cases it can also appear horizontally.


Since the crack is very faint, you may need to stand in front of a bathroom mirror with good lighting in order to visualize it.


hairline crack in veneer

Photo above: The upper front central incisor has a porcelain veneer that has a vertical hairline crack running along it.


If the crack is deep enough it can even be felt with your tongue, lips, or finger nail. However I would advise against picking at it because you may cause the crack line to deepen and make it even worse.


 

How to fix it

The only proper treatment for a dental veneer that has sustained a hairline crack is full replacement, meaning you need a new one bonded on. It cannot and should not be repaired because that will most likely lead to an unintended complete fracture.


What to expect during replacement: The process will be similar to when you first had the veneer procedure done, it will feel like dejavu.

  1. Administer local anesthesia.

  2. Drill off the defective porcelain laminate.

  3. Refine the tooth preparation.

  4. Pack cord to reveal the gum line.

  5. Take an impression of the prepped tooth.

  6. Fabricate a new temporary.

  7. Send to the lab for fabrication.

  8. Return in ~2 weeks to have it bonded on permanently.


Hairline cracked veneers cannot be repaired:

  • Poor Aesthetics. You cannot try to fill in the hairline crack with some dental bonding because it won't look good. You will literally have two different materials showing, porcelain and composite which will look different and not uniform.

  • Weakens bonding. The repair requires drilling into the laminate to create enough spacing to place composite bonding. Doing so will cause the bond to weaken even further thus precipitating an eventual fracture.


In summary, if it is damaged in any way whatsoever, it will need to be completely replaced.


 

No treatment consequence

If you decide to leave the hairline crack in the veneer untreated, it will eventually crack and fall off.


Photo below: The veneer on the left has cracked in half. Part of it fell off completely while the other half is still bonded onto the tooth. You can see two different colors, the white is porcelain, while the yellow is the dentin.


veneer fractured in half

If this happens to you, it will become a dental emergency and a cosmetic emergency.

  • Dental emergency. Exposed dentin from where the veneer debonded will be very sensitive. Dentin is not used to being exposed to the oral environment. You will cringe every time you suck in air.

  • Cosmetic emergency. A front tooth veneer that has fractured will leave you looking like a hillbilly. Do you want to walk around with half of a front tooth?


The recommendation is to proactively treat this condition so that you don't have to deal with the consequences of it becoming an emergency.


 

Future prevention

Typically, hairline cracks in veneers are caused by eating hard foods and teeth grinding. Therefore the best way to prevent it is by doing the opposite.


How to take care of your veneers:

  • Minimize hard foods. Best thing to do would be to never eat hard foods but if you can stop chewing on ice or biting into crab legs, etc you can help extend the longevity of your porcelain laminate restorations.

  • Wear a night guard. For those suffering from bruxism, wearing a night guard while you sleep can help protect your expensive veneers.


With that being said, there is no one stopping you from eating whatever you want with your veneers but you do increase the risk of damaging them. This is the same analogy as you can wear your expensive Louboutins to go hiking but do you really want to risk damaging them?!


Ultimately, if you've found hairline crack in your porcelain veneers, our dentists in Long Island City can help evaluate/replace it.


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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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