Jun 2

Dental Damage and Tooth Abfractions

Dental Damage and Tooth Abfractions - Houston, TX

by Jon Marc Van Slate DDS

An illustration of a normal tooth and a tooth with an abfraction side by sideTooth abfractions may not be the most well-known oral health problem, but they are among the most common. In fact, it’s quite possible that you have tooth abfractions, yourself, and don’t even realize it. If you do, you are among the countless people who could benefit from diagnosis and a comprehensive restorative dentistry treatment plan. While tooth abfractions often start off as minor, they can lead to such serious problems as tooth loss if left untreated.

What are tooth abfractions exactly? They are notches that occur in the teeth at the gum line. There was a time when most dentists believed that tooth abfractions resulted from patients’ brushing their teeth with too much force. However, while overaggressive tooth brushing can cause problems such as enamel erosion, we now know that abfractions can be attributed to different causes altogether. In discussing dental damage and tooth abfractions with patients at his Houston, TX cosmetic, restorative, and general dentistry practice, Dr. Jon Marc Van Slate explains these causes in detail and helps to find solutions.

Tooth abfractions are not to be taken lightly as they can have serious oral consequences. We encourage you to take a step toward optimal dental health by scheduling your initial consultation with Dr. Van Slate today.

What Is the Cause of Tooth Abfractions?

Many factors can contribute to the worsening of tooth abfractions once structural damage has been done to the teeth. Plaque, poor oral hygiene, and even the overaggressive toothbrushing once thought to be the cause of tooth abfractions can all contribute to the further breakdown of the teeth. When the structure of a tooth is compromised, it becomes vulnerable to all types of damage.

However, there are now believed to be two primary causes of tooth abfractions:

  • Teeth grinding: Clinically known as bruxism, chronic teeth grinding puts exceptional pressure on the teeth over time. While the teeth can withstand the forces of routine biting and chewing, the additional pressures of teeth grinding can cause the enamel that protects the teeth above the gum line and the cementum that protects the teeth below the gum line to become damaged. This can lead to the formation of notches in the more delicate dentin layer in the gum line. This dentin layer, which lies directly beneath the enamel, is highly porous and susceptible to damage.
  • Malocclusion: Malocclusion, or a “bad” bite, refers to the condition in which the upper and lower teeth do not meet properly when the jaws are closed. Like teeth grinding, malocclusion puts tremendous pressure on the teeth, especially at the gum line. When a person bites and chews, this pressure causes the same breakdown of enamel over time that teeth grinding can, eventually leading to tooth abfractions.

Fortunately, tooth abfractions can be treated, usually with dental crowns. Dr. Van Slate can also treat the underlying problem, whether teeth grinding, malocclusion, or both, to ensure that no further damage is done to the teeth.

Learn More about Dental Damage and Tooth Abfractions

To learn more about dental damage and tooth abfractions, please contact our cosmetic, restorative, and general dentistry practice today.

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