Tooth Wear

Tooth wear or is the loss of healthy structure for reasons other than decay. Although no cavities are present, teeth become shorter and often thinner over time. Tooth wear may decrease the ability to proper chew and may also noticeably change the appearance of your smile.

There are three factors that have been identified which cause tooth wear:

Bite Wear

Bite wear or “attrition”:  Teeth appear shorter or thinner

Risk factors may include

  • An unbalanced bite, where the teeth do not contact evenly on both side
  • An overly abrasive or coarse food diet
  • Grinding of your teeth

Toothbrush Abrasion

Toothbrush abrasion:  Notches appear in the side of the tooth near the gum line

Risk factors may include

  • Excessive pressure while brushing teeth or when using toothpicks
  • Abrasive, stiff or “hard” toothbrushes with abrasive toothpaste
  • Excessive brushing throughout the day with whitening toothpaste

Acid erosion:  The biting surfaces of the teeth appear to be dished out or grooved

Risk factors include

  • Environment – acidic places of work, swimming pools
  • Diet – over consumption of sports drinks, soft drinks, citrus fruits and candy
  • Chronic dry mouth – reduced or lack of necessary saliva
  • Chronic vomiting – “GERD” (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), Bulimia

Considerations for reducing the effects of tooth wear

  • Have your individual risk factors evaluated by your dentist to customize an appropriate management protocol
  • Diagnosis and treatment of unbalanced bite issues
  • Application of minerals such as fluoride to strength and harden damaged tooth surfaces
  • Dietary counseling
  • Use of a mouthguard or “bite appliance” to protect teeth from grinding
  • Manage dry mouth with oral gels, mouth rinses, chewing gums with xylitol
  • Treatment for chronic conditions of “GERD” and Bulimia  

Without correct treatment for the type of tooth wear a patient is diagnosed with can lead to changes in facial appearance (self-conscious, embarrassment), large and extensive restorations, exposure of the tooth’s nerve leading to root canal treatment, or loss of a tooth or teeth due to excessive damage.