Tooth wear is the result of loss of tooth substance from other means than dental caries.
Dental erosion occurs when the tooth comes into contact with an acid. Most of these dangerous acids can be found in everyday food and drink; fizzy drinks, including fizzy water, citrus fruits, including slices in water, fruit juices, pickled foods, white wine, black coffee and even tomatoes. On the other hand, diseases of the digestive system such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or bulimia result in acid from the stomach entering the mouth which also damages teeth.
The other types of tooth wear are attrition and abrasion. Attrition is caused by tooth-to-tooth contact and your dentist will be able to spot flattened surfaces and worn, smooth restorations which can indicate this. This can be caused by several factors including parafunctional habits such as bruxism (grinding) or clenching, developments defects, or a hard or rough-textured diet. The absence of posterior teeth can also dramatically increase the wear on the remaining front teeth; with no or limited back teeth for chewing all the forces and work is carried out by the front teeth which slowly become shorter and flatter with an increased chance of chipping or fracturing, not to mention losing a smile as teeth disappear under the lip.
Abrasion occurs usually by an incorrect brushing technique. Along with potentially abrasive toothpaste, the act of poor brushing can quite literally brush your teeth away. Also, brushing too soon after consuming acidic foods or drinks, damages the already weakened tooth substance further increasing the risk of wear.
Immature teeth, teeth with recession or lacking enamel are most at risk of damage as any compromise to the enamel structure weakens a tooth.
How to Help
- Avoid acidic drinks between meals and limit teeth to 5 meals / snacks a day to enable your saliva to repair your teeth and neutralise the acids
- Wait at least 45mins after eating before brushing your teeth
- Check with your dentist or Hygienist you are using the correct toothpaste
- Toothbrush – Never use a hard brush unless specifically advised by your dental professional. Turn an electric tooth brush down when brushing over areas of recession and pay attention to any pressure sensors your toothbrush may have
- Use a fluoride mouthwash or if not possible plain water to rinse your mouth after meals / snacks
- Use a straw
- See your dentist about any bruxism (grinding) or clenching habits you have so they can help prevent damage to your teeth
- Replace missing posterior (back / chewing) teeth
- Plain water, milk and white tea and coffee (without sugar) are the safest drinks for teeth
- Visit your dentist when they advise to help maintain and protect your teeth