The crown of your tooth, i.e. the visible part, is coated in enamel, a hard surface of hydroxyapatite crystals.
This enamel protects the tooth structure from external aggressions such as overly hot or cold, acidic or abrasive foods.
Despite being hard, the enamel may eventually suffer wear.
Causes of dental wear
This refers to the habit of grinding your teeth by clenching them hard and grating them one set against the other. Dental wear depends on the direction and intensity of the grinding movement. Some people mainly cause wear to their front teeth, others to the canines on either side and yet again others only to their back molars.
This wear affects the occlusal part of your teeth, meaning the part coming into contact with the teeth opposite them. We can prevent this by providing you with a guard to wear at night. The reason for wearing it at night is due to the fact that, unconsciously, this is the time when 80% of the wear caused by grinding takes place. At our dental clinic in San Sebastián, we’ll give you advice and offer you customised solutions to protect your teeth against grinding.
This mustn’t be confused with frequent brushing. You can brush your teeth as often as you like, after every meal, three times or more a day.
The problem arises if you use poor quality toothpaste which is highly abrasive. You must take care with whitening toothpastes given that if you choose one that’s not a known brand, by removing the tobacco stains it may actually be wearing your teeth away. Furthermore, the affected teeth will stain again faster since the grooves in the enamel retain nicotine more easily.
You mustn’t apply great strength when brushing your teeth, given that doing so can wear down the neck of the tooth, or the part where the enamel becomes thinner and the root begins. The name for wearing down the enamel at the neck of the tooth is milolisis.
This area is close to the nerve and you may find that your teeth become sensitive to hot and cold foods and even while brushing. In cases such as these, we recommend that you use a special toothpaste for hypersensitivity combined with a medium toothbrush.
You must also take care not to brush your teeth only in the horizontal direction, as this could lead to a more rapid appearance of milolisis.
Acids cause corrosion to the enamel, leading to wear and sensitivity. The excessive consumption of natural juices such as orange, lemon or kiwi, and of industrial juices, which contain acids as well as sugar, represents a danger for your teeth, since they are often consumed between meals and are not therefore followed by brushing your teeth, meaning that their effect is prolonged over time.
While drinking fruit juice is highly recommendable, if it is acidic we recommend that you brush your teeth immediately afterwards.
In cases such as these, the patients often make themselves sick, meaning that here it is their stomach acids which damage the enamel. It is common for the damage to occur on the inner part of their top teeth, so that if you look at the enamel in this area in a mirror, you will see that it has lost its shine and is thinner. In fact we can sometime diagnose these illnesses during a dental check-up.
While the patient is recovering from these food-related issues, it is advisable, if they cannot stop themselves from vomiting, that they at least brush their teeth immediately afterwards. This will help to prevent dental problems, such as hypersensitivity to hot or cold, or a greater tendency to suffer tooth decay.
Gastric reflux or repeated vomiting caused by different diseases mean that your stomach acids affect your teeth, wearing them down.
The solution to dental wear
- Frequent brushing, concentrating both on the technique and the frequency, depending on the origin of the wear.
- Using a night guardin the case of bruxism.
- In the case of milolisis or wear of the neck of the tooth, we can fill the area with composite in the shade of the corresponding tooth.
- Certain kinds of wear can be corrected with porcelain crowns or veneers.