Teeth wear is a phenomenon associated with a loss of enamel or independent dentin due to caries or trauma. In addition to aging, the possible causes for teeth wear are abrasion and friction generated by bruxism, by some foods or by misuse of the toothbrush, the erosion of chemical substances and acid from food or gastric acid (frequent episodes of vomiting or gastroesophageal reflux) and the loss of tissue (the so-called "abfraction", whose causes are not yet fully clarified). The consequences are yellowing of the teeth, increased sensitivity to heat and cold, pain and the teeth becoming considerably shorter.
The amount of tooth wear recorded recently is significantly greater than in the past because now more people are attempting to retain their natural teeth well into old age. Tooth wear is generally caused by three phenomena: abrasion, erosion and attrition.
Abrasion is a progressive loss of hard tooth substances caused by mechanical actions other than tooth-to-tooth contact. Abrasion is often associated with misuse of a toothbrush leading to notching at the junction of the crown and root of teeth. Abrasion also occurs in people who use their teeth as a tool (to remove bottle tops, to hold pins, nails or clips). Moreover, long-term tongue jewellery can also cause tooth abrasion.
On the other hand, erosion is a progressive loss of tooth substance by chemical or acid dissolution without the involvement of bacteria. Erosion is often the result of frequent use of carbonated drinks and fruit juices with high acidity levels. Erosion also occurs in adults who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or from certain eating disorders. Additionally, the risk of tooth erosion is higher in people with a low salivary flow rate.
Attrition is also a form of progressive loss of hard tooth substances caused by mastication or grinding between opposite teeth. Attrition is more common in people who habitually clench or grind their teeth (bruxism).
What diseases can be associated with tooth wear?
The diseases that may be associated with tooth wear include the following:
- Gastroesophageal reflux
It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list and it would always be better to consult your doctor if symptoms persist.