Tooth Wear

Tooth Wear.With proper care, your teeth can last a lifetime. But some amount of wear as we age is normal. By “wear,” we mean loss of tooth structure. Wear starts with loss of the hard, translucent enamel that forms the outer covering of teeth, and might, in more serious cases, progress to the softer inner tooth structure known as dentin.

Enamel is actually the human body's hardest substance. It is highly mineralized and non-living, in contrast to bone and dentin which are living tissues. Enamel is highly resistant to wear and chemical attack, as it would have to be given what your teeth do every day: bite, chew, and come in contact with acidic foods and drinks.

Still, it is possible for tooth enamel to wear down for various reasons. Your body has ways of compensating for minor wear. But when tooth wear becomes more significant, intervention may be necessary to keep your bite functioning properly and protect your teeth.

Types of Tooth Wear

Tooth wear can result from one or more of these processes:

Gum Recession - Abrasion.Abrasion: This is caused by the interaction of teeth and other materials rubbing or scraping against them. The most common source of abrasion is traumatic toothbrushing, meaning that you are using a toothbrush that's too hard or applying too much force when you brush. This can affect the root surfaces of your teeth just below the gum line or the enamel above the gum line. Other causes of abrasion can include improper use of toothpicks and dental floss. Some dental appliances such as partial dentures or retainers that are frequently taken in and out of the mouth can also abrade teeth. Abrasion can also result from a diet loaded with abrasive foods like sun flower seeds and nuts or habits such as nail-biting and pen-chewing.

Attrition: This is an effect of tooth-to-tooth contact, which happens many times throughout the day as your teeth bite and chew food. Biting and chewing normally generate forces between 13 - 23 pounds. Yet people who have clenching and grinding habits (of which they might not even be aware) can subject their teeth to forces up to 10 times that. This can damage teeth.

Erosion: When your teeth come in contact with acidic substances in your diet, the acid can actually erode (dissolve) the enamel on your teeth. Culprits of this kind of tooth wear often include sodas, sports drinks and so-called energy drinks. Certain fruit juices are also acidic. Confining these drinks to mealtimes and swishing water in your mouth after drinking them can help prevent this erosion.

Abfraction: This refers specifically to the loss of tooth enamel at the necks of the teeth (the thinner part right at the gum line). While this type of wear is not clearly understood and the cause is debated in dentistry, loss of tooth structure at the neck of teeth does happen. It is believed to be caused by tooth flexion from biting forces. Abrasion and erosion can contribute to this problem.

Treating Worn Teeth

In order to treat your worn teeth, the cause of the wear must be determined during a simple oral examination at the dental office. Once the cause has been identified, the stresses on your teeth can be reduced if need be. For example, you may need instruction on gentle, effective tooth brushing techniques; or some changes to your diet. If you have a clenching or grinding habit, a mouthguard can be custom-made for you that will protect your teeth during sleep or periods of high stress.

Lost tooth structure sometimes needs to be replaced so your bite functions properly and your teeth look great once again. Depending on the situation, this can be done with bonding, veneers, or crowns. Fortunately, modern dentistry can restore the normal shape, appearance and function of worn teeth — beautifully and successfully!

Related Articles

Tooth Wear - Dear Doctor Magazine

How & Why Teeth Wear Are teeth supposed to last for a lifetime? And are humans designed to live for up to a hundred years? Given all the current improvements in the areas of medicine and health, both general and oral, people are not only living longer, but they are also keeping their teeth longer. This article will provide an overview of the “oral system” and one of its more common and important occurrences, tooth wear... Read Article

Grinding Teeth - Dear Doctor Magazine

When Children Grind Their Teeth Many children grind their teeth as they sleep, and the grating sounds of this habit can really set a parent's own teeth on edge. But is tooth grinding (also called “bruxism”) harmful? And can — or should — anything be done to break the habit? Dear Doctor magazine shines a light on this unsettling nocturnal behavior... Read Article

Cockrell Dental Office

1040 Hillcrest Rd.
Mobile, AL 36695
Phone: (251) 639-0110
Fax: (251) 634-1097
Email: [email protected] 

google
Yelp

Office Hours

Monday - Wednesday:

7:30 am - 5:30 pm

Thursday:

7:30 am - 3:30 pm

Friday:

7:30 am - 12:30 pm

Saturday, Sunday:

Closed

Featured Articles

Read about helpful topics

  • Fillings

    Frequently asked questions: dental fillings Are dental amalgams safe? Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to amalgam? Is it true that dental amalgams have been banned in other countries? Is there a filling material that matches tooth color? If my tooth doesn't hurt and my filling is still in ...

    Read More
  • Sealants

    Sealants are liquid coatings that harden on the chewing surfaces of teeth and are showing a great deal of effectiveness in preventing cavities—even on teeth where decay has begun. The pits and grooves of your teeth are prime areas for opportunistic decay. Even regular brushing sometimes misses these ...

    Read More
  • Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Patient

    Patient Rights You have a right to choose your own dentist and schedule an appointment in a timely manner. You have a right to know the education and training of your dentist and the dental care team. You have a right to arrange to see the dentist every time you receive dental treatment, ...

    Read More
  • Introduction

    Does mercury in the silver fillings in your mouth pose any long-term health risks? Does fluoride, in spite of everything we've been told since childhood, actually cause more harm than good? What does the latest research reveal about tobacco use on your overall oral health? This section is dedicated ...

    Read More
  • Medications

    Some dental procedures, such as tooth extractions and oral surgery, may call for our office to prescribe medications before or after a procedure. These medications are used to prevent or fight an infection, or to relieve any post-operative discomfort and pain. For these reasons, it is extremely important ...

    Read More
  • Oral Piercing

    Oral piercings (usually in the tongue or around the lips) have quickly become a popular trend in today’s society.  With this popular trend, it is important to realize that sometimes even precautions taken during the installation of the piercing jewelry are not enough to stave off harmful, long-term ...

    Read More
  • Scaling and Root Planing

    Some cases of acute periodontal (gum) disease that do not respond to more conventional treatment and self-care such as flossing may require a special kind of cleaning called scaling and root planing. The procedure begins with administration of a local anesthetic to reduce any discomfort. Then, a small ...

    Read More
  • Toothaches

    Simple toothaches can often be relieved by rinsing the mouth to clear it of debris and other matter. Sometimes, a toothache can be caused or aggravated by a piece of debris lodged between the tooth and another tooth. Avoid placing an aspirin between your tooth and gum to relieve pain, because the dissolving ...

    Read More
  • Infection Control

    Standards and Best Practice With all of the increased media attention on infection outbreaks such as AIDS and multi-drug resistant strains of viruses, it's no wonder people have heightened concerns about infection control during a medical procedure. Gloves, gowns and masks are required to be worn ...

    Read More
  • X-Rays

    When X-rays pass through your mouth during a dental exam, more X-rays are absorbed by the denser parts (such as teeth and bone) than by soft tissues (such as cheeks and gums) before striking the film. This creates an image on the radiograph. Teeth appear lighter because fewer X-rays penetrate to reach ...

    Read More