Treating Worn Down Teeth
It is normal for teeth to wear over time. As we age, teeth gradually erode due to a number of factors. While worn down teeth may become painful or unsightly, it is a natural process and nothing to be ashamed about. Luckily, there are a number of treatments for dental erosion.
How to Fix Worn Down Teeth
Three different dental procedures or treatments are the most common methods for repairing the damage done by dental erosion.
Dental bonding uses the same tooth-colored synthetic resins dentists use to fill cavities. The resin is applied to the surface of affected teeth to cover any imperfections. Applying dental resin is usually a quick procedure that can be completed in a single visit and is rarely painful.
Dental veneers can help to restore the appearance and function of teeth. Veneering teeth involves bonding a custom made shell-like piece of porcelain, ceramic, or synthetic material directly to the front of the teeth. This procedure is usually applied to front teeth and can improve the aesthetics and function of the front teeth.
Dental crowns are used in more severe cases of tooth erosion and are usually but not always applied to the middle or back teeth. Applying a crown involves filing down the affected tooth so that a cap can completely cover the damaged area.
How to Prevent Tooth Wear
The best way to treat tooth wear is to prevent or slow down the processes that erode teeth. Correcting the behaviors that lead to tooth wear will prevent damage and slow down overall erosion of the teeth. Tooth wear is often exacerbated by four methods: abrasion, attrition, bruxism, and erosion.
When teeth are affected by an outside force, such as brushing too hard or chewing hard things like fingernails or ice, it is called abrasion. The best way to avoid abrasion is to not chew on anything but food and use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Attrition occurs naturally when teeth come into contact with each other during normal chewing and biting. A major cause of tooth wear is clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth, also known as bruxism.
Grinding the teeth is the most common way teeth are worn down. It is commonly an involuntary or unconscious response to stress or anxiety, and many people grind their teeth as they sleep. The best way to deal with bruxism is to have your dentist make you a night guard. Usually made of silicone or another composite, a night guard works in a similar way to a sports mouth guard, keeping your teeth from coming into contact with each other when the jaw is clenched.
Dental erosion is another very common cause of tooth wear. It is usually caused by a highly acidic diet or too much gastric acid in the mouth. Those who suffer from GERD or bulimia will generally have eroded teeth from stomach acid entering the mouth. This acid is extremely caustic and can eat away at the enamel and softer insides of teeth if the mouth is not properly cleaned.