How Wear and Tear can Ruin Your Smile
Most people think their teeth were built to last forever. The truth, however, is that just like the rest of your body, your teeth can suffer from the effects of everyday wear and tear. This can affect the way they function and the way they look – turning a beautiful smile into one that looks and feels tired and old.
From a technical standpoint, tooth wear is the loss of part of the surface of one or more teeth that is not caused by a disease, like cavities or gum disease, or an injury, like chipping it on a piece of ice. There are three basic categories of tooth wear: called attrition, abrasion and erosion.
The term attrition refer to tooth surfaces wearing down due to contact with other teeth. It is a very normal type of tooth wear and is part of the aging process. However, bad habits like grinding or clinging teeth can cause attrition to be more serious, or happen faster. How much teeth are affected depends on how strong they are.
Attrition flattens back teeth and makes front teeth shorter, which can change a person's appearance. If it goes far enough to expose parts of the dentin (the part of teeth under the enamel), it can cause sensitivity to heat and cold.
People who brush their teeth too zealously or use a toothbrush with hard bristles can suffer from abrasion. Although the situation is rare, it can be serious when it occurs in combination with other types of tooth wear, such as when dentin is already exposed from attrition or erosion as dentin erodes much faster than enamel. To avoid this type of tooth wear, be sure to use a soft bristled brush and a toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association.
Erosion occurs when acids in the mouth eat away at the surface of a tooth. This can be triggered by certain foods and beverages, including
Lemons, limes and other citrus fruits
Vinegar and salad dressings
Avoiding these foods entirely may not work for everyone, but there are ways to lessen their impact on teeth. They key is to eat or drink them with other foods, and to drink water or even better, brush your teeth afterwards to remove the acid from your mouth.
Stomach acids can also cause tooth erosion. These acids can travel to your mouth because of conditions like heartburn, indigestion or acid reflux, conditions that cause vomiting like bulimia or morning sickness during pregnancy, or even overeating or drinking too much.
Treating Tooth Wear
The good news about tooth wear is that it does not have to be forever. The effects can be easily treated by a trained cosmetic dentist. Solutions include veneers and porcelain crowns designed to restore teeth too their former size, color and strength. Talk to your dentist about the best way to repair your tooth erosion and create your perfect smile.