What Causes Teeth to Wear Out Early: Abfraction
There are four major ways that our teeth are worn down throughout our lives. The first three are abrasion, attrition, and erosion. But there is one more way that our oral health can be compromised because of wear and tear, and it’s much less commonly known. The fourth way of wearing down our oral health is called abfraction, and the cause of it is often debated in the dentistry community.
Abfraction causes small wedged lesions on the gum line usually present on the side of the gums that faces the check. They are often narrow but deep and shaped like a v. many times these lesions will only affect one single tooth and the surrounding teeth will be perfectly fine. Abfraction can even cause the lesions to occur just under the gums in an area that is typically not affected by most forms of wear and tear such as abrasion and erosion.
What causes abfraction is the interesting part however. Many dentists have debated this issue and still have not come to an agreement about the exact cause. Some dentists believe that abfraction is simply caused by certain types of toothpaste which contain too much grit, therefore rubbing against the gums badly and causing lesions. This is similar to what we talked about with abrasion, in which we discussed how toothpaste can oftentimes rub against the teeth and wear out the enamel. Some dentists believe that abfraction is simply due to use harsh and gritty toothpastes, but many other dentists also think that the abfraction lesions are caused by toothpaste just in a different way. There are some dentists who believe that abfraction may be caused by the harsh use of toothpaste, such as using too much toothpaste or brushing too strongly.
And then there are those dentists who believe that abfraction can be caused by stress on the tooth when biting and is not at all caused by toothpaste. These dentists believe that when we bite down it strains our teeth, and often the strain carries itself through the teeth and into the gums, causing lesions. This does make sense, since when we bite down really hard oftentimes we can notice pain in the gums because of it.
This is just one of the four major ways that teeth are eroded. The other three are abrasion, attrition, and erosion. If you are concerned that you may be wearing down your teeth through any of these, you should see your dentist right away. Don’t wait to get your teeth checked out because the longer you wait the more severe the damage is likely to be.