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The Dental Damage Caused by Tooth Abfractions

By Burton Gooch on June 07, 2017


Tooth abfractionsA tooth abfraction refers to a small lesion or notch forming along the lower portion of a tooth near the gumline. You may be able to feel the lesions if you run your tongue along your teeth. As abfractions progress, they may be visible when looking in the bathroom mirror. This is a common problem that many people face.

The team at our Birmingham general dentistry practice would like to take a moment to go over the causes of tooth abfractions, the dangers of the condition, and various methods for treatment.

Common Causes of Tooth Abfraction

The most common causes of tooth abfraction are as follows:

  • Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) – Teeth grinding refers to the gnashing, clenching, and shifting of the teeth when a person is asleep. This can place an undue amount of stress and pressure on the teeth, resulting in the formation of abfraction.

  • Crooked Teeth and Poor Dental Alignment (Malocclusion) – When your teeth are not properly aligned, it can lead to a whole host of cosmetic and health issues. With regard to abfractions, malocclusion is a common cause of teeth grinding. In addition, the uneven alignment can lead to additional stress placed on certain teeth from normal biting and chewing, increasing the risk of abfractions.

  • Aggressive Brushing and Flossing – Aggressive brushing and flossing can increase your risk of worn tooth enamel and gum recession. In addition, it can potentially quicken the formation of abfractions given the stress placed on the teeth along the gumline.

It's not uncommon for combinations of the above to cause abfractions to form.

The Dangers of Tooth Abfraction

There are a few dangers to consider when it comes to tooth abfraction.

  • Tooth Sensitivity – An early symptom of tooth abfraction is tooth sensitivity. This is because of the exposure of the underlying tooth structure at the gumline. Hot and cold temperatures are likely to cause sensitivity and discomfort.

  • Weaker Tooth Enamel at the Gumline – With the tooth enamel weakened at the gumline, people run a much higher risk of tooth decay in that area. This tooth decay is more difficult to treat than cavities that affect the crown of the tooth. There's also a heightened risk of root canal infection given proximity of the decay to the tooth root and pulp chamber.

  • Higher Risk of Fractures and Tooth Loss – With weakened teeth at the gumline, it's possible for cracks and other fractures to form over time from regular wear and tear. That means a higher chance of tooth loss should a serious fracture develop.

Treatments for Tooth Abfraction

The ideal way to treat tooth abfractions is to address the underlying cause of the problem. This usually involves are few options for treatment, which may include the following:

  • Bite Guard – A common part of teeth grinding treatment, bite guards help reduce direct contact between the teeth during sleep. This reduces the stress placed on the teeth and can prevent abfractions from getting worse.

  • Stress Management – If teeth grinding is related to anxiety and stress, patients can learn various relaxation techniques to help reduce bouts of bruxism during sleep.

  • Orthodontics – Orthodontic treatments can improve dental alignment, enhancing the function of a smile. Orthodontic care can also help reduce the severity of teeth grinding.

  • Restorative Dentistry – Various kinds of dental restorations may be used to rebuild the missing tooth structure down at the gumline. More advanced care can be considered depending on the extent of the damage.

Learn More About Dental Abfractions

For more information about tooth abractions and your many options for treatment, be sure to contact our advanced dental care center today. We will help you smile with renewed confidence and improved health.

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