The dilemma of tooth wear

With proper care, your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. However, some amount of wear and tear as we age is normal. Wear and tear of teeth refers to the loss of tooth structure. Wear and tear starts with the loss of the hard, translucent enamel that forms the outer covering of teeth. In some cases wear progresses to the dentin; the softer inner tooth structure.

Believe it or not, enamel is the human body’s hardest substance. It is non-living, yet highly mineralised. Enamel is highly resistant to wear and chemical attacks; it would have to since your teeth chew, bite, and come in contact with acidic foods and drinks every day.

Despite this, it is still possible for tooth enamel to wear down for many reasons. Your body has ways to compensate for minor wear. But when tooth wear becomes more serious, intervention may be required to keep your bite functioning properly and protect your teeth.

Common Causes of excessive tooth wear

In some patients, tooth wear has one single cause. In other patients, tooth wear is a result of a combination of several factors. These factors include:

Acidic Foods and Beverages

Consuming acidic foods or beverages weakens the enamel. The weakened enamel is then more easily worn away when you chew harder foods or brush your teeth. Common acidic foods and beverages include citrus juices, cooldrinks, sodas, citrus fruits and tomato sauce. 

Physical Abrasion

Brushing too hard or using a hard toothbrush can cause damage to your teeth. have a similar effect. For this reason, we recommend using a soft toothbrush and a gentle touch when brushing.

Grinding and Clenching

Grinding or clenching your teeth when you feel stressed or anxious, can cause the enamel to wear down prematurely. When you grind one tooth against another, the friction can slowly grind away the enamel. Clenching your jaw can lead to the formation of micro-cracks in the enamel. The enamel around these cracks then wears away more easily when you eat or brush your teeth.

Acidic Foods and Beverages

Consuming acidic foods or beverages, the acid weakens your enamel. The weakened enamel is then more easily worn away when you chew harder foods or brush your teeth. Common acidic foods and beverages include citrus juices, cooldrinks, sodas, citrus fruits and tomato sauce. 

Symptoms of tooth wear

  • Chipped and shorter teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity or pain when eating or drinking
  • Teeth appear more translucent

Treatments for tooth wear

When you visit us to discuss your worn teeth, one of the first things we will do is work with you to get to the root cause of tooth wear. This way, we can address the cause of the wear and prevent it from getting any worse.

Once we identify the cause, we can reduce the stresses on your teeth if necessary. 

For example, you may need instructions on gentle and effective tooth brushing techniques; or some changes to your diet. 

If you have a grinding or clenching habit, we will make custom-made mouthguards that will protect your teeth while you sleep or during periods of high stress.

Some cosmetic treatments for worn-down teeth include composite resin bonding, veneers, crowns and, in severe cases, dental implants. 

Contact us for advanced treatments

The experienced team at the Smith and Van Lierop Dentistry can help to restore your eroded teeth and treat them to minimise further damage. After a thorough check-up, we will be able to give you treatments that will get you smiling again. Now you can have optimal dental health, function and aesthetics. Contact Smith and Van Lierop today to find out how we can restore your smile.

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