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October 10th, 2013

The teeth can become worn over time, leading to changes in the bite, the enamel covering the teeth and even the shape of the face.  Decades of chewing wears down the biting surfaces of the teeth.  Sometimes the enamel is completely worn away.  This process, known as attrition, is hastened by the destructive habit of grinding the teeth or an abrasive diet, or even a poor bite leading to a shearing action. In severe instances, the face may lose some of its height, which can change the facial appearance, make you look older, and maybe even cause pain in the jaw joint areas.  These changes are usually very gradual and often go unnoticed until the condition is quite advanced.  Often, it leads to breaking of teeth or fillings.
Abrasion occurs just beyond the enamel on the root surfaces.  It is more prevalent on tooth roots that are exposed by receding gums and is caused by a variety of forces including overly forceful brushing (especially with a stiff brush), grinding (bruxism), and teeth in poor alignment under heavy load.  Abrasion can lead to weakening of the teeth at the gum line leading to tooth fracture and can also affect the pulp of the tooth, leading to root canal problems.
Erosion is a chemical breakdown of tooth substance.  Acids in the mouth may etch away parts of the tooth surfaces.  Erosion is likeliest to occur if the mouth is dry.  It is also associated with habitually sucking on acid foods, such as lemon drops or constant “bathing” with acid containing drinks or foods.  The most harmful are the soft drinks, including soda (both regular and diet), sports drinks, energy drinks, and flavored and enhanced water products.
To keep your teeth a lifetime, protect them by avoiding products and habits that do harm.  Visit your dental office regularly so that problems can be diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

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