Although tooth wear is not top-of-mind for most people, it is a dental condition that affects most people. Because we are now living longer, our teeth are ‘hanging around’ a lot longer and are subjected to abuse from our day-to-day living.
Tooth wear can cause:
- Shorter teeth – changing in facial vertical dimension
- Sensitive teeth
- Darker teeth – as enamel thins, the darker dentine ‘shines’ through
- Chipped/broken teeth
- Jaw, neck pain
Problematic tooth wear is frequently attributed to erosion, abrasion, or attrition.
Erosion is explained as the loss of hard dental tissue related to chemical processes not involving bacteria. The main culprits of erosion are acidic foods and beverages but for some people, stomach acid is the cause of their erosion (GORD, bulimia). Dehydration plays a major role in erosion – lack of saliva alone makes for an acidic environment in the mouth. These cause thinning of enamel, smooth/shiny surfaces, loss of surface characteristics, dentine exposure and grooves.
Sometimes tooth wear is a result of repeatedly misusing teeth. Abrasion refers to lost tooth structure from pressure caused by foreign objects or aggressively brushing teeth. While tooth translucency and grooves can be symptomatic of erosion, wedge-shaped lesions on teeth are a frequently cited symptom of abrasion from tooth brushing. Even ordinary toothpaste can damage teeth when paired with aggressive brushing.
Tooth wear is not always a result of an outside substance or object. The loss of hard tooth structure from a patient’s own tooth-to-tooth collision is defined as attrition. Patients with a history of bruxism have an increased probability of attrition.
Because tooth wear cannot be reversed, early intervention is vital. To treat patients who demonstrate tooth wear, our Oral Health Therapists follow a comprehensive consultation agenda. When tooth wear is evident, the patient’s medical history, saliva, lifestyle habits and diet are discussed in order to determine the cause and aid to devise a
preventive and treatment plan.