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Erosion & Abrasion

Contact Us Today!Erosion and abrasion are very common, sometimes occurring in children’s teeth, but most common in adulthood. Wear of this sort occurs from either chemical (erosion) or mechanical (abrasion) means or both.

Chemical causes of erosion are primarily acids. This includes stomach acid, as in gastric reflux disease or bulimia, citric acid from sucking on lemons, or citric acid that has been added to drinks (especially in diet sodas). These acids start the erosion process by softening the outer enamel layer. Then abrasive actions (eating, tooth brushing or chewing habits) come along and scrape off the layer. This happens a very small amount at a time, but you can imagine how much can change with just a couple of years exposure to such acid.

Most people think that notches at the gum line come from too vigorous tooth brushing. While this is possible, a more common cause is clenching or grinding. The enamel and the underlying dentin form a strong layered sandwich that resists erosion. The stresses from clenching and grinding transfer to the tooth just below where the enamel ends, weakening that area. Then other mechanical forces, such as tooth brushing, come along and remove the weakened tooth structure. Add an acid situation and the damage can progress even more rapidly.

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Before & After

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Abrasion and erosion can also occur on the tops of the teeth. This occurrence is addressed in the section on bite reconstruction.

Prevention of erosion means treating the condition producing the acid, or eliminating the offending products. Ice tea is a good substitute for sodas…water is even better. Stay away from anything with corn syrup or refined sugars that can produce decay.

Prevention of erosion and abrasion when bite forces are involved may involve adjusting the bite to reduce forces on the teeth being damaged and/or wearing of a bite splint (occlusal guard or night guard).

Repair of teeth eroded or abraded at the gum line is essentially the same. Composite restorations are bonded to the damaged tooth surface. The dentist will normally extend this bonding onto healthy enamel to increase the bonding strength of the restoration. In some situations it may be necessary to be numb and have added mechanical retention added to the tooth.

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