Tooth Wear

What causes tooth wear?

Tooth wear shouldn’t happen.  Here are the three common causes:

1. Bite wear that presents itself as the thinning or shortening of teeth.  If you have a tendency of grinding teeth (bruxism), have an unbalanced bite (malocclusion), or have an  an overly abrasive diet, you are at risk of developing bite wear.

2. Acid erosion that shows as grooving, dishing, or cupping of your teeth’s bite surface.  If you suffer from chronic dry mouth and/or chronic vomiting (e.g., from bulimia or GERD), consume highly acidic foods and drinks (e.g., sport drinks, soda, candies, and citrus fruits), or work in acidic environments (e.g., swimming pools), you are at risk of acid-eroding tooth wear.

3. Abrasion from cleaning teeth that shows as notching near the gum line of your teeth.  If you use abrasive dental products such as toothbrush with harder bristles and some toothpastes (see our recommended products), or use too much pressure on your toothbrush or toothpicks when cleaning your teeth, you are at risk of teeth wear.

What can I do to reduce or eliminate tooth wear?

The first step is to have a dentist evaluate your individual risk factors so they can help guide you in avoiding or managing the potential causes for tooth wear.

Here are a few guidances they may provide:

  • Diagnose and manage chronic dry mouth
  • Diagnose and treat conditions related to chronic vomiting and GERD
  • Customize a diet
  • Diagnose and correct misaligned bites
  • Provide mouthguard to protect teeth from grinding
  • Provide mineral applications to your teeth to harden notched surfaces
  • Provide custom dental care instructions and products

What happens if I choose to do nothing about my tooth wear?

If left untreated, it may eventually expose the nerve of your tooth.  This will require a costly root canal treatment to save–or worse, untreated wear may lead to painful fractures and tooth loss.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.