Naturally, as we age, our body begins to slowly breakdown. This in turn affects our skin, muscles, bones, joints, internal organs, and even our brains. Teeth are no exception.
How much tooth wear is normal?
Worn down teeth is natural as we age. The average amount of normal wear on one’s teeth, after the age of thirty, is about one millimeter of length on the upper front teeth per ten years. When the wearing on your teeth becomes extensive, the problems commence.
What causes teeth to wear down?
Wear can be caused by erosion, attrition, or abrasion, and in some cases, a combination of the three.
Erosion occurs when chemicals or acids destroy the teeth enamel. These acids are either from drinks we consume and bring into our mouths, or from within our stomachs that we bring up to our mouths. Erosion is the least common cause for wear, but is most commonly caused by drinking too much soda, carbonated beverages, or acidic juices. Soda is highly acidic and the daily ingestion of soda can destroy enamel in a short period of time. Ingested acid can damage the enamel on the surface of the front teeth, especially at the gum line, and at the biting surface of the back teeth. Those who suffer from acid reflux are also at a greater risk for teeth erosion.
Attrition is a kind of tooth wear that is caused by your lower and upper teeth rubbing against each other. Of course, a certain amount of wear occurs naturally as we age, but excessive wear caused by teeth rubbing against each other due to daily grinding of teeth can cause serious damage to the tooth structure. This kind of wear ends up causing facets, which are the patterns worn on opposing teeth. In a true case of attrition opposing teeth will wear facets that match up. These facets are caused by teeth grinding the top layer of enamel off of each tooth. Once the enamel is worn through, the inner soft core of the tooth, the dentin, is exposed. Once the dentin is exposed, wear continues at more rapid rate.
Abrasion refers to wear that is caused by external forces. Rather than being caused by tooth on tooth contact, abrasion is most commonly caused by outside elements, such as aggressively brushing the teeth. Abrasion begins with the wearing down of the enamel. If left untreated, abrasion can wear through the enamel, through the inner dentin, and eventually reach the cementum, which helps secure the teeth within the jawbone.
What happens if wear continues?
Excessive wear can result in temperature-sensitive teeth, difficulty in chewing, chipping and fracturing of teeth, bite-related problems such as headaches and TMJ (jaw joint) problems, and nerve exposure resulting in full blown toothaches.
Unfortunately, many people are unaware that they have a serious tooth wear problem. Tooth wear can occur rapidly over a short period of time, or it can occur gradually over long periods of time. For many people, the wear goes unnoticed, especially if it has taken place more gradually.
How are worn teeth treated?
The key to properly treating tooth wear is recognizing and identifying the true cause. For example, a dentist treating excessive wear with a night guard because of tooth grinding will fail if the true cause of wear is erosion. It is best to visit a dentist who has seen all forms of wear. Call Dentistry for Madison today to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Jay Hazen or Dr. Sarah Karls.
Excessive tooth wear is a serious problem that should not be ignored. In any case of excessive tooth wear, set up an appointment to discuss potential treatments with a dentistry near you. To make an appointment, call 608-719-4433, or click here to see previous smiles Dr. Jay has greatly improved.