What is Abfraction?
Dental abfraction results in a notch at the gum line or even under the gum line in some cases. This notch is due to losing the outer layer of enamel. When a large portion of enamel is lost, the underlying dentin material under the teeth is exposed. Exposed dentin can lead to tooth sensitivity when eating or drinking.
Dental abrasion can also occur near the gum line on the tooth but this is mostly due to aggressive brushing or using a toothbrush with hard bristles instead of soft.
What Causes Abfraction?
It is caused by uneven pressure and bending pressures that are applied to the tooth. These uneven pressures or forces are usually caused by misaligned teeth and/or habits such as the grinding or clenching of the teeth.
Ideally, our teeth should be aligned in such a way, that when we bite or chew, the pressures that are exerted on our top and bottom teeth, are distributed evenly across all teeth.
When you grind or clench your teeth repeatedly, it causes undue stress to the teeth and the bone structures that surround and support the teeth. Sometimes you may be aware if you are grinding or clenching your teeth. If the grinding or clenching occurs during sleep, you may not realize it if you sleep alone. Regular dental checkups will help your dental health professional monitor your ongoing dental health and any changes.
If some teeth are not aligned optimally, chewing, biting, grinding and clenching will put additional stress on certain teeth. Because of this, it is possible that only some teeth may be affected, while the others are left unaffected. Other habits such as chewing on pens or pencils throughout the day, will also put excess stress on certain teeth. In addition to placing stress, habits like these can cause premature wear on the biting surfaces of teeth as well.
How is Abfraction Treated?
If it is caused due to habits such as biting on pens or other objects, stopping that habit will prevent further damage. For those who consciously or subconsciously grind or clench their teeth habitually throughout the day, stress management techniques can help to break the habit. If these habits occur during sleep, wearing a dental night guard will help. Your dentist can provide a custom fitted night guard for you.
If abfraction is due to misaligned teeth, correcting the alignment through the use of orthodontic treatment will help to reduce the uneven levels of stress placed on certain teeth and prevent more damage. In addition to helping reduce stress on teeth, properly aligned teeth are also easier to keep clean with proper oral care.
The physical appearance of a tooth with an abfraction is treated by filling in the empty space with dental bonding material. The bonding material is matched to your tooth colour for a natural and seamless look.
If you believe that you have abfractions or would like more information on treatment, contact us.