Tooth wear occurs when the outer tooth surface is lost as a result of chemical or mechanical activity in the mouth. An increasingly common problem, teeth can simply wear down or dissolve away to varying extents as time passes. This is in contrast to tooth decay and gum disease which are caused by the action of bacteria in the mouth.
Why is tooth wear a growing concern?As highlighted in the most recent Adult Dental Health Survey in the UK, tooth decay and gum disease appear to be on the decrease whilst tooth wear is on the increase with over three quarters of those assessed having some form of tooth wear.
As people live longer and as diets change, teeth are being challenged in a host of new ways. For example, modern lifestyles have created diets which contain higher levels of acidic foods and drinks such as fruit juices and sparkling drinks. Sports drinks have also become increasingly popular and contain high levels of acidic content.
Eating disorders and stressful lifestyles can also increase tooth wear through stomach acid regurgitation and tooth grinding. Increased levels of tooth wear are also seen in those ingesting higher than normal levels of alcohol and particularly in those taking social drugs.
Everyone experiences some tooth wear simply due to normal use of the teeth. It only becomes a real problem if the level of wear becomes rather more significant. As a result of one or more of the following causes, teeth can become short and unattractive as well as rough or sensitive. Even speaking or chewing can become a problem and some people also experience jaw and muscle ache.
AbrasionAbrasion: tooth wear caused by excessive rubbing away of enamel and dentine as a result of vigorous tooth brushing, porcelain crowns against natural teeth or a coarse diet as just some examples.
AttritionAttrition: contact between the teeth over and above normal use, as seen in patients who generally grind and clench their teeth at night, results in tooth wear which is often linked to a stressful lifestyle.
ErosionErosion: tooth wear as a result of eating acidic foods and drinks (eg fruits and juices, alcohol, sparkling drinks, sports drinks) or having stomach acid regurgitation (eg hiatus hernia, bulimia, pregnancy sickness).
How we can help youAt the London Tooth Wear Centre®, an evidence-based approach to comprehensive care is offered. In this regard, advice may also be sought from medical and dental colleagues in related specialties.
An early diagnosis is essential so that simpler treatment, including monitoring and prevention, can be provided. Preventative advice is based on three areas; diet, lifestyle and your oral healthcare regime. On occasion, more complex treatment may be necessary to restore satisfactory function and a pleasing appearance.
We look forward to helping and advising you with regard to this increasingly common problem.