You know about tooth decay. You also know about chipped teeth and cracks on the teeth. Yet have you heard about tooth abfraction? This is a common issue among many patients, yet they may not be familiar with what it entails.
The team at our Boston restorative dentistry center would like to consider the basics of tooth abfractions and why they need to be taken seriously. They can pose a number of dangers to dental health.
What Are Tooth Abfractions?
Tooth abfractions refer to the small notches that form on the tooth structure around the gumline. These notches are small, but they can be noticeable if you run your tongue along them or give your teeth a good look in the mirror.
In the earliest stages of tooth abfractions, the notches are not that large or pronounced. In later stages, tooth abfractions can lead to serious concerns for overall dental wellness.
What Causes Tooth Abfractions?
There are a few different causes of tooth abfractions, each involving stress or pressure exerted on the teeth.
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) – Teeth grinding is the clenching of the teeth that often occurs when a person is asleep. The constant and prolonged stress on the teeth over a long period of time can result issues with the tooth structure when it meets the gumline.
Crooked Teeth (Malocclusion) – When your teeth are crooked, the pressure exerted when you bite and chew is not evenly distributed. This can result in more pressure being placed on certain teeth, and greater likelihood of abfractions.
Aggressive Brushing and Flossing – Brushing and flossing too hard can make abfractions worse, wearing away already worn down tooth enamel.
It's not uncommon for combinations of the above causes to result in tooth abfraction.
The Danger of Tooth Abfractions
When your tooth enamel is weakened, this can result in a number of serious dental health issues.
Tooth abfractions often cause people to experience varying degrees of tooth sensitivity. This is because the enamel has been worn down and the underlying dentin layer is exposed. Since dentin is porous, it is more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.
When there is less tooth enamel in place, it ultimately leads to a heightened risk of tooth decay. When tooth decay forms along the gumline, it can be much more challenging to treat. This can also lead to a root canal infection.
In addition to tooth sensitivity and tooth decay, abfractions also result in an increased risk of serious tooth fractures. Chips, cracks, and even total breaks in a tooth may occur because of the compromised tooth structure.
How Are Tooth Abfractions Treated?
Treating tooth abfractions usually involves two steps: restoring the tooth enamel and addressing the root cause of the problem.
There are different dental restoration options for addressing abfractions, from bonding and fillings to dental crowns. The ideal restorative option will depend on the extent of the wear on the enamel.
During the consultation process, your dentist will assess the cause or causes of the abfraction, which will often mean therapy for bruxism and/or orthodontic care in addition to other measures. These will be tailored to your needs.
Learn More About Your Dental Care Options
If you would like more information about treating tooth abfractions and improving your overall dental health, be sure to contact our team of dental care specialists today. The team at our practice will help you smile with renewed confidence and improved wellness.