Tooth Wear

Healthy, natural teeth are the most resilient parts of your body, and under typical conditions, they can successfully withstand a lifetime of intense pressure and friction from your bite. However, there are several circumstances that can expose your teeth to excessive, uneven pressure, which can cause them to wear down noticeably (especially the chewing surfaces). When teeth become worn, they can also become sensitive due to the loss of some of their tooth enamel. Worn teeth can also throw your bite off-balance, leading to issues with your bite’s function that could lead to severe jaw discomfort, known as TMJ disorder.

Causes of Tooth Wear

Uneven bite pressure and resulting tooth wear can result from a number of different reasons, from malocclusion (misaligned teeth and/or jawbones) to untreated bruxism (constant teeth-grinding). When your bite is uneven, for instance, your teeth may not meet squarely when you bite down. The teeth that make contact first may be subject to more pressure than normal, and in time, the stress can gradually wear down your teeth’s chewing surfaces. Likewise, bruxism can expose your teeth to excessive amounts of stress as you grind and clench them together, acting almost like sandpaper against your teeth’s surfaces.

Treatment Options

To prevent the potential dental complications associated with worn down teeth, your dentist can prescribe an appropriate treatment to address potential risk factors. While many of these issues cannot be prevented, they can be corrected as early as possible to prevent tooth wear, tooth sensitivity, and more. For instance, malocclusion can be corrected with custom orthodontic treatment, such as braces or Invisalign®. Many patients who experience bruxism can often treat their condition with a custom-designed oral appliance, which can be worn at night to protect teeth from grinding against each other.

If tooth wear has already occurred, then your dentist may recommend an appropriate restoration, such tooth bonding, porcelain veneers, or dental crowns, to restore your worn tooth structure.