Did you know that tooth enamel is the hardest structure in the body? That’s right. It’s even harder than bone! Enamel is meant to withstand a lifetime of chewing forces and biting. However, various types of tooth wear can occur over time. Wear and tear is the irreversible loss of tooth structure, which is often unsightly, painful, and hinders the function of teeth. In this blog, we take a look at the causes of tooth wear and how we treat it. 

Types of tooth wear

Dental erosion usually occurs when acid comes in contact with the teeth. However, there are three different kinds of tooth wear:

Attrition

Attrition refers to wear caused by tooth-to-tooth contact. It usually occurs where the teeth meet on the biting edges. Attrition on front teeth results in wear patterns on both the top and bottom teeth. Bruxism (tooth grinding) is the main cause of this type of tooth wear.

Abfraction 

Abfraction occurs when a misaligned bite or regular grinding create abnormal pressure on the tooth. This results in a notch forming on the side of the tooth near the gum line. 

Abrasion 

Abrasion is similar to abfraction, but it is caused by an external mechanical force, such as a toothbrush. If you brush too hard against the surface of the tooth or use a toothbrush with hard bristles, the constant wear and tear can cause a notch-like surface at the gum line.

Symptoms of tooth wear

The symptoms of erosion include:

  • Teeth appear to become shorter
  • Teeth appear glazed and smooth (due to the tooth surface being worn away)
  • Fillings sit higher than the surrounding tooth surface
  • The chewing surfaces of the teeth showing smooth, concave craters
  • Sensitive teeth.
  • Teeth appearing yellow (due to darker coloured tissue showing through thinning enamel)

How to prevent enamel loss

Avoid acidic foods

Excessive acid can be detrimental to the health of your teeth. Acid can eat through your teeth’s strong enamel and expose the softer insides of your teeth and create cavities for bacteria to grow and hide in. 

Wear a nightguard if your dentist recommends one

Some people clench or grind their teeth, and they don’t even know it, especially at night. Bruxism can cause toothaches and other symptoms such as worn enamel and tooth sensitivity. All these symptoms make your teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay, cracks, and chips. If you’ve been diagnosed with bruxism and have a nightguard, wear it to prevent future problems. 

Don’t chew on things you shouldn’t

This may sound like the kind of advice we would give to a child, but it applies to people of all ages. While wood, plastic, or fingernails may not feel hard enough to cause damage, chewing on these materials a lot can wear your teeth. This leads to toothaches and enamel loss. Chewing on ice is also a major no-no. Many people say the act of chewing helps them think. If that’s the case, we suggest you opt for sugar-free gum instead.

Treatment options for tooth wear

For minor abfractions or abrasions, we will likely place a filling on the side of the tooth over the damaged surface to help protect against continued wear. Alternatively, we may use fluoride treatment at your six-month preventive care appointments. We will continue to monitor the site of the wear to ensure it doesn’t worsen. For more serious cases, we may consider the use of crowns, bridges or veneers to restore the functionality and aesthetics of your smile. 

Check out how we treated this patient’s tooth wear. The change in his smile is amazing! You can also have your smile restored by contacting us today.