Last updated on June 14th, 2022
Seeing an old photo of yourself, you might notice that your smile has changed noticeably throughout the years. This change is not limited to facial skin aging most of the time. When you look at the photo and a mirror simultaneously, you can notice that your teeth have gotten smaller in size; they look more yellow than white and not as bright as in the photo.
All these changes are the signals of tooth wear. Most of the time, worn teeth are tolerable to some extent, but for some people, the problem progresses faster, and it might create sensitivity around the gums along with aesthetic issues. As a result, many dental professionals distinguish between normal tooth wear by aging and excessive tooth wear by external conditions. They focus more on the treatment of excessive tooth wear.
In this article, you will read about the causes and results of worn teeth. Also, we provide you with some treatment alternatives that might help to get rid of worn teeth.
Causes and Results of Tooth Wear
There are numerous causes and results of a worn-down tooth. For some people, just one reason might lead to many results, while for some others, more than one cause might result in only one of the results listed below.
Causes of Tooth Wear
Although there are many possible causes of tooth wear, we have grouped them into three main categories; bruxism, physical abrasion, and certain foods and drinks. Let’s see the details.
Bruxism is the habit of grinding and clenching the teeth due to stress or anxiety. Worn teeth are often associated with grinding or clenching by the patients, and the professionals usually verify this uneducated guess. Most of the time, bruxers do the grinding and clenching moves when they are sleeping at night.
Due to the heavy grinding and clenching, the enamel surface of the teeth wears out by friction. The phases of the problem are pretty common among people having grinding or clenching habits. Firstly, the teeth get flattened due to attrition, then they get smaller and lose their usual brightness in the longer term.
Physical abrasion refers to the physical damage to the tooth enamel caused by chewing foreign objects or brushing too harshly with firm-bristle toothbrushes. Similar to bruxism, abrasion usually starts with worn enamel on teeth. Although the erosion of teeth is generally observed in the long term, it is still possible to see the immediate damage of physical abrasion caused by some harder factors such as chewing pencils or cracking nuts with teeth. This type of physical abrasion typically causes severe damage, especially on canine, premolar, and front teeth. The front teeth wearing away, in particular, changes the patients’ smile dramatically.
Certain Foods and Drinks
Consuming acidic foods and drinks, such as some dairy products, tomato sauce, and carbonated beverages, make your enamel weaker. This weakness makes your teeth more vulnerable to be worn away by brushing or chewing hard foods or other objects. Also, frequent vomiting is a significant factor that might lead to sensitivity on the teeth. As mentioned above, a high level of sensitivity increases the likelihood of excessive erosion on the teeth.
Results of Tooth Wear
Losing your pretty smile is usually the most common and apparent signal that you might feel your teeth wearing down. Although poor aesthetics are still remarkable, there are some other and even more severe results that worn teeth might bring along. These results can be observed individually or altogether. Here is the shortlist of the results of worn teeth:
Smaller and Yellowed Teeth
Naturally, the dentin layer beneath the enamel is yellowish. As your teeth get eroded, the white enamel on the surface wears away, so your teeth seem more yellow than before. Also, the tips of the teeth get flat as the erosion increases, and in time the height of the teeth decreases. Both of them usually end up losing your better smile.
Sensitivity, dentin hypersensitivity in more technical terms, refers to pain or discomfort while eating or drinking too hot or too cold. Sensitivity is one of the most irritating outcomes of tooth wear, and it makes daily life difficult for many people. Although worn teeth are still responsible for sensitivity, some people may have naturally thinner enamel, and they have the problem of sensitivity sooner.
Jaw Ache and Headache
The majority of the jaw ache and headache is related to grinding and clenching. As mentioned above, bruxism is a significant factor in tooth wear. However, aside from bruxism, worn teeth at further stages might cause your teeth not to come together when you close your jaw. The gap creates strain in your mouth and jaws. It leads to pain in your jaws, and this pain moves to your head in a short time.
Biting and Chewing Problems
As your teeth wear out, you lose the individual tooth shape and the overall alignment. As stated above, the misalignment creates a problem, especially when you try to get your upper and lower teeth together. Therefore, even a simple biting and chewing might be a big deal for you. In the end, you avoid biting foods like carrot, apple, or chewing any food for more than a few seconds.
Solutions for Tooth Wear
Teeth wear is normal to some extent due to aging. However, excessive tooth wear needs certain treatment. If your dentist tells you that you have excessive tooth wear, you can ask him/her for treatment alternatives that fit your need and expectations best. Here, we will mention some common treatment options for worn teeth.
Nightguards are the most common tools used by bruxers. When you wear a nightguard, it will keep the lower teeth apart from the upper teeth not to touch and damage each other. Using a night guard regularly, you can decrease grinding and clenching and prolong tooth wear for a long time. Nonetheless, nightguards are only effective for grinding issues. If you have teeth wearing down due to other reasons, night guards cannot help you with that.
Dental bonding is used to cover the eroded surface of the teeth. In this treatment, a composite material is placed on the edge of the problematic tooth or teeth. As a result, the worn surface is hidden, and the flattened or eroded appearance is eliminated. It may also help to correct misalignment and sensitivity caused by worn teeth. However, dental bonding may not be adequate if you have a higher degree of tooth wear.
Botulinum toxin, Botox, is another effective treatment used to treat worn down teeth from grinding or clenching. In this treatment, jaw muscle is targeted by injecting a small amount of botox into it. Hence, the muscle gets weaker and cannot repeat the habitual grinding unconsciously, especially while sleeping.
If you suffer from severe teeth wear, you might consider taking more significant steps against it. Getting composite or porcelain veneers is one of those effective solutions. The veneers are particularly efficient in the treatment of bruxism. Flattened and misaligned teeth are corrected by putting veneers designed for the best possible appearance and function. However, you should keep in mind that composite veneers are not as durable as porcelain ones. If you go for composite veneers rather than porcelain ones and don’t get rid of bruxism, your veneers will not be able to keep their ideal shape for a long time.
Like veneers, a zirconium crown is another effective way to deal with the worn teeth problem. It is a strong and durable material like porcelain veneers. You can enjoy the smile and comfort for longer years.
To Sum Up
You can see that tooth wear is a natural process to some extent, but it can turn into a severe problem if it occurs at an excessive rate. Therefore, once you are experiencing some of the causes and results of worn teeth, you can get in touch with Maltepe Dental Clinic to get preliminary information and receive special treatments.