Over our lifetimes, our teeth take quite a beating. Although the enamel of our teeth is incredibly strong, it’s not indestructible. Everyday wear and tear – chewing, teeth grinding and the consumption of acidic foods – and decay can wear down the teeth. This is especially common in older patients as our teeth will age similarly to the rest of our bodies.
To help you understand this dental condition, let’s discuss worn teeth, their causes, and their common treatments.
What Are Worn Teeth?
As the name may suggest, worn dentition refers to any teeth in your mouth that have been reduced in size or misshapen by excessive wear. Sometimes, this presents as a merely cosmetic issue. However, worn teeth often result in increased tooth sensitivity, weakness, and pain as the enamel of your tooth wears away.
What Causes Worn Teeth?
There are many factors that can cause worn teeth. Most of these circumstances can be categorized into three different types of wear: attrition, abrasion, and erosion.
Attrition is tooth loss caused by tooth-to-tooth contact. Usually, this stems from an issue like bruxism (tooth grinding) or other clenching and grinding habits. Your teeth are not meant to be in contact with each other that way, so grinding places extra wear on them. This is the most common cause of worn teeth in older adults.
Abrasion is a loss of tooth substance caused by non-tooth objects. For example, habits like chewing on pens, fingernails, or other non-food objects can cause abrasion. Vigorous or excessive tooth brushing with extremely abrasive toothpaste or hard bristles can also cause this type of wear.
Erosion is the loss of enamel through chemical means – usually acids. Issues like GERD (gastric reflux) can cause stomach acid to be regurgitated into the mouth, resulting in significant enamel wear. Vomiting, caused by conditions like bulimia or alcoholism, as well as consuming too many acid foods or drinks (citrus juices, coffee, etc.) can also induce moderate tooth erosion.
How Are Worn Teeth Treated?
First, the root cause of tooth wear must be addressed. For attrition-based tooth loss, we need to figure out why someone is grinding their teeth. Is it Sleep Apnea, or Hypopnea (abnormally low or shallow breathing)? Could it be an airway issue? Or perhaps a dental–skeletal imbalance? Getting to the bottom of issue will help us know how to treat it.
Abrasion-based tooth loss may require habit changes, and erosion-based tooth wear usually depends on the treatment of conditions like GERD or bulimia, as well as habit changes.
Regardless of the cause, the most common options to restore worn teeth are dental composites or dental crowns, depending on the severity of the condition.
Dental bonding and contouring, or a dental composite, is best suited for more moderate cases of tooth wear. Made of high-quality resins, a dental composite can attach to the worn tooth and be shaped to restore the natural size and function of the original tooth.
Dental crowns “cap” the entire tooth, making them a better choice for treating advanced cases of tooth wear and protecting sensitive teeth from further damage.
Do You Have Worn Teeth? Dr. Matthew H. Wallengren Can Help!
If you have been struggling with increased tooth sensitivity or have seen a definite change in the shape or coloration of your teeth, you could be suffering from worn teeth. Matthew H Wallengren, DDS, PA, is experienced in treating severe cases of worn dentition and can recommend the appropriate solution for your particular case.
Don’t suffer from worn teeth. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Wallengren today at (410) 892-1451, or come to our office in Baltimore, located at 600 Wyndhurst Ave, Suite 270, Baltimore, MD 21210.