At first glance, worn teeth may be diagnosed as purely a cosmetic issue. However, with a more in-depth analysis, worn teeth may be an indication of an advanced dental issue, such as TMD, Occlusal dysfunction, or tooth grinding.
Types of Tooth Wear:
Attrition: This type of tooth wear occurs when the top and bottom biting surfaces of the teeth grind against each other. This may occur in patients who grind or clench their teeth, whether during sleep (sleep bruxism) or during the day (awake bruxism).
Abrasion: When there is repeated friction against the tooth, it can lead to abrasion. The most common form of this is harsh brushing and using the teeth as tools.
Erosion: When acids make contact with the tooth enamel, it can lead to erosion. Acids may result from citrus fruits, stomach acids from acid reflux or vomiting.
What Causes Worn Teeth?
Minimal tooth wear may occur naturally as we age; however, excessive tooth wear should be examined and addressed just in case. Diagnosing tooth wear requires a comprehensive examination of the masticatory system ( teeth, muscles, joints, and jaw).
An in-depth analysis of the primary factors that may contribute to tooth wear can help create a more dynamic treatment plan. Discovering the underlying cause of tooth wear can help aid in its prevention and overall treatment. Tooth wear is a pathological process so establishing the underlying causes is a key part of prevention.
Tooth wear may be caused by:
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- TMD/ TMJ disorder
- Repeated dental trauma
- Misaligned Bite
Nothing in the mouth happens independently, so when one part is affected, it can influence the entire system. When the teeth begin to break down or wear, other parts of the system may begin to compensate for the wear, which can result in other advanced issues.
Symptoms of Worn Teeth
Patients with tooth wear can experience various symptoms, including:
- Short teeth
- Discolored tooth enamel
- Translucent teeth
- Increased tooth sensitivity
Treating Worn Teeth
During the comprehensive examination, we will asses the teeth for signs of excessive wear. Like most treatments, the treatment for worn teeth is dependent on its root cause. Not only is it necessary to repair the lost tooth structures, but it also important to restore proper function and form to the bite.
The goal of treatment is based on two foundations:
- Help our patients better understand their dental health and provide them with a comprehensive, personalized solution.
- To address tooth wear before it results in more complicated dental issues. Taking preventive measures is one of the best ways to maintain your dental health.
Treatment may require restorative treatments, such as tooth bonding, dental crown, dental fillings, inlays, or onlays, to repair the enamel. Other forms of treatment may require splint therapy or a nightguard. Both options prevent the biting surfaces of the teeth from coming together, all while reducing the likelihood of future damage.
In some cases, patients may benefit from orthodontics. Treating worn teeth may help restore balance and function to your masticatory system.