Tooth Wear

Why is your tooth wearing away?

Dental erosion is the irreversible loss of tooth enamel caused by acids in the mouth. It occurs in populations across the globe and affects people of all ages. Dietary habits, conditions such as bulimia, and poor oral care can all lead to tooth erosion.

Erosion caused by a poor diet often appears as hollowed out areas in the chewing surface of tooth. Drinking sodas, alcohol, or energy drinks increase the likelihood of eroding your teeth. To help balance the amount of acid in the mouth, have these drinks with a meal. It is also possible to reduce acidity levels in your mouth by consuming the drink in a short period of time, as opposed to sipping it. This allows the oral cavity to restore a normal pH balance. 

What are the types of tooth wear?

1. Attrition involves tooth-to-tooth contact, most often: teeth grinding or improper biting.This type of tooth wear breaks down and flattens the chewing surfaces of the teeth. 

2. Abfraction occurs when regular grinding or a misaligned bite create an abnormal load on the teeth. This results in a knot on the side of the tooth near the gumline. A dentist will often recommend a night guard for a patient exhibiting abfraction. Orthodontic treatment can also help align the teeth to ensure they come together properly and don’t wear prematurely. 

3. Abrasion can appear similar to abfraction, but it is caused by an external mechanical force, such as toothbrushing. The constant wear can cause a notch like surface at the gumline. A patient presenting with abrasion could be brushing too hard against the surface of their teeth or using a toothbrush with a hard bristle. Your dental hygienist can give you instructions on proper brushing techniques to avoid continuous wear.

What are treatments for tooth wear?

Although it may not be medically necessary, those with an abfraction or abrasion can have a filling placed on the side of the tooth, over the damaged surface, to help protect against continued wear. Alternatively, a patient may choose to have fluoride applied at their six month preventative care appointment or use a toothpaste that contains fluoride to help with sensitivity. Your dentist or dental hygienist may also continue monitoring the worn site of the tooth to ensure it doesn’t worsen.

Your enamel will not grow back. But not all is lost! You can take measures to prevent further erosion and preserve a healthy smile. Knowing how to take care of your teeth and practising good habits recommended by your dental professionals can help your smile last a lifetime! 

-Ania
Braeside Dental Centre

Tooth Wear

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