How Do Abfractions Affect Your Dental Health?
Have you ever heard of abfractions? Until my last check up at my dentist’s office, I didn’t know what an abfraction was. An abfraction is a notch in the tooth structure which is near the gum line or even under the gum line. It will usually be on the side near the cheek as opposed to the tongue side.
I also found out they can cause serious issues if they are not taken care of in a timely manner.
All causes of abfractions are not known but there are three theories of what causes them. The first one is that improper force on the teeth caused by a misaligned bite (the teeth not lining up properly) can cause an abfraction.
When your bite is off, even just slightly, one tooth may hit sooner than the rest. This will cause undue stress on the teeth involved, and they begin to flex. By having this stretching and contracting continuously, over time it causes the enamel to separate from the inner dentin layer of the tooth, which forms a notch at the gum line.
Some believe that using too much abrasive toothpaste eats into the enamel and causes problems. The abrasive ingredients in the toothpaste along with improper brushing (especially too aggressively) gouges out a V-shaped indentation in the enamel of the tooth.
And the last theory is the grinding and clenching mostly done at night. It places an enormous amount of extra stress on the teeth.
If your bite is slightly off, the dentist may smooth down areas so that when chewing takes place, all forces are evenly distributed among all of the teeth.
If grinding and clenching is the issue, the dentist may prescribe a night guard to absorb the stress and protect the teeth.
If brushing your teeth or using too much toothpaste is the problem, your dentist may recommend that you brush using only flouridated mouthwash and with only a soft toothbrush.
All of these problems affect your dental health. Once the abfraction is identified and addressed, the notch in the tooth can be restored by bonding a filling in place or the notch may have to be covered with gum tissue to help stop the sensitivity.
If you suspect any of these issues may be affecting your dental health, addressed early enough, your dentist may be able to restore the tooth to its original color and shape. Don’t delay!