Cosmetic Dentistry » Tooth Wear
Even with the best oral health regime, over time as we get older our teeth are prone to normal wear and tear. Paradoxically, as people's general dental health improves, more people retain their natural teeth later in life, meaning dentists are seeing and treating more cases of tooth wear.
There are three principle causes of tooth wear: erosion, attrition and abrasion.
Erosion occurs when the strong enamel coating covering the teeth is broken down by acid from acidic foods and drinks, as well as due to certain medical conditions. Once the enamel is gone, the body cannot repair it, leaving the teeth darker in colour, sensitive and more prone to decay.
Attrition is frictional wear and tear caused by chewing and grinding the teeth. This can be a problem for people who eat a lot of hard food and roughage (vegetarians are particularly prone to this) as well as those who suffer from bruxism (grinding of the teeth). Most of us will experience some form of attrition as we get older.
Abrasion is a form of wear and tear caused by poor tooth brushing technique, and in those who use their teeth to bite things other than food – pens, clips or pins, or in place of a bottle opener, for example.
In most cases, tooth wear can be treated fairly simply and quickly, although if left untreated more extensive restorative treatment may be required.
Some steps to avoid tooth wear include:
- Cutting down on fruit juices, cordials and carbonated drinks
- Drinking fruit juices through a straw
- Not brushing your teeth for 30 minutes after acidic food and drinks
- Following your hygienist's advice on the best way to brush your teeth
- Being mindful if you are clenching your teeth too often, and seek advice
- Wearing a mouth guard at night if you have bruxism
- Not using your teeth to hold or open things
- Visiting your dentist and hygienist regularly