Tooth wear and tear

Tooth wear and tear - 4 types

ATTRITION:tooth-to-tooth grinding

This usually happens during sleep when you’re working out the frustrations of your day.

Signs: small polished facets on the biting surfaces of your teeth; this can lead to a reduction in height of your teeth.

Treatment: reduce stress in your life, or get a bite splint to wear at night


Vigorous tooth brushing with toothpaste will wear teeth even if you use a soft brush.

Signs: loss of tooth at the gum line (as this is where the hard enamel ends and the softer root surface begins); pain on cold at this site

Treatment: BE GENTLE YET THOROUGH when brushing – it’s only food, not rust! Brush with about the same force you would use to gently brush the inside of your lower lip.

Desensitising toothpaste can be of use (see note below)

Abraded areas can be resurfaced with white filling material, however, this material will discolour over time and replacement may mean loss of more tooth structure.

EROSION:acid softens tooth enamel and dentine

Signs: surface loss, translucency, chipping

Causes: reflux of stomach acids or dietary eg soft drinks, fruit juices, wine

The acid softens the enamel for a number of hours so it is NOT wise to brush your teeth straight after, you

will remove the softened enamel easily.

Treatment: stop assaulting your teeth with acid at a frequency they cannot cope with.

Researchers have measured soft drink consumption and found alarming results. In the UK they found an average intake of 1 litre/child/day, and in the USA an average of 2 litres/child/day! At this rate of acid attack you could just about see the teeth dissolve as they drink.

ABFRACTION:grinding stresses on the biting surfaces cause flexing of the tooth, causing pieces of enamel to flake off at the gum line

Signs: as for abrasion. It can be very difficult to diagnose the difference between these.

Treatment: as for attrition

Just to confuse things, these usually happen in a combination.

Consider Bob: after drinking a cola drink, Bob knows that it is bad for his teeth so decides to give the teeth a really good hard brush. He goes to bed then grinds his teeth because work is really stressful. Upon waking in the morning he has some healthy lemon juice with breakfast, another punishing round with the toothbrush and wonders why he has sensitive teeth!

  • Reduce stress in your life; it’s very restful in the cardiac ward but most of us don’t want to check it out.
  • Brush your teeth gently yet thoroughly
  • Be aware of acid attack on your teeth
  • Desensitising toothpaste seems to work best when applied directly to the sensitive area with your finger after brushing.
  • Bite splint-is a custom made hard acrylic appliance worn over the teeth at night.


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