What Is Dental Wear?
As we age, there is a natural and progressive breakdown that affects every part of the body, including our skin, bones, muscles, joints, internal organs, and even our brains. Unfortunately, teeth are not immune to the effects of aging. With age, it is perfectly normal for our teeth to show a certain amount of wear. However, some people experience wear above and beyond what is expected for age-related wear.
Dental wear can also be seen after a time of heightened stress and anxiety. Trauma related to teeth clenching and grinding is typically seen in patients who are under tremendous amounts of stress. In a recent article published by The New York Times, a prosthodontist speaks about the massive influx of patients dealing with dental wear following the reopening of her practice after closing due to the coronavirus.
Three Types of Dental Wear
Excessive tooth wear can have several different causes, and identifying the specific cause is crucial in choosing the correct treatment. Wear can be caused by:
- Abrasion – this is typically associated with improper brushing techniques, but is also commonly seen in individuals who have the habit of using their teeth to bite and chew items that are not meant to be chewed or bitten (fingernails, pens, clothing tags).
- Attrition – this is predominantly linked to teeth clenching or grinding and can also be linked to individuals who have misaligned teeth.
- Erosion – this is typically seen in individuals who suffer from dry mouth, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD or GERD), or eating disorders.
Problems Caused By Dental Wear
Many patients notice that their teeth are showing wear when they look in the mirror. However, excessive tooth wear can cause an array of other issues that you may not immediately realize are related.
- Yellowed teeth – as the white tooth enamel wears away and becomes thinner, the dentin starts showing through and teeth develop more of a yellow appearance.
- Sensitivity – this is due to the worn enamel and can be noticed when eating or drinking something hot or cold.
- Headaches or jaw pain – the misalignment in your bite can strain your jaw, which can radiate and lead to headaches.
- Difficulty biting or chewing – bite misalignment may also make it harder to bite into certain foods, like apples and carrots. It can be a struggle to chew since your teeth no longer fit together properly.
There are many treatment options available to assist with worn teeth. It could be as simple as changing to a softer toothbrush, or a more complicated treatment may be needed, such as dental bonding or crowns. If you are seeing dental wear on your teeth, please call our office located in Seattle, WA to schedule an appointment today!