Restoring Worn Teeth

Preventing and Treating Teeth Wear at Our Grand Rapids, MI Dental Office

A mature lady in a dental chair looking at her teeth in the mirror.

Tooth enamel is incredibly hard, but it is far from indestructible. Time affects all things, and your teeth are no exception. Teeth naturally wear down over time. However, normal wear is not enough to prevent your teeth from lasting a lifetime. So then, why do some people need restorations for worn teeth?

There is no single answer. Rather, several factors can lead to worn dentition. Tooth wear can be mechanical, resulting from years of use and clenching teeth. However, tooth wear may also result from acid erosion.

Mechanical Wear

Your teeth were made to be used, and almost everyone chews food each day. Over the years, this gradual wear adds up. Your eating habits can play a role in accelerated wear, but simple attrition will cause your teeth to wear down over the decades.

Mechanical pressure through teeth grinding can also greatly impact teeth wear. For many patients, grinding is an unconscious habit that occurs during sleep. Called bruxism, this condition not only wears down your teeth but can also cause jaw issues, chronic headaches, and other problems.

Bruxism does not typically happen continuously during sleep. Even a few minutes or seconds of clenching can add up over many nights and cause issues. However, daytime clenching may also occur without realization and result in dental stress and wear on the teeth structures. Patients with large, old fillings are most at risk for teeth cracking or splintering, but no one is completely safe from this danger.

When cracks form, it provides an inroad for cavity-causing bacteria to enter the tooth. This process accelerates decay and can lead to further erosion and even tooth loss.

Unfortunately, many patients are unaware of the problem as it can be painless with no outward symptoms. The loss of tooth structure often leads to shortened teeth. While shortened teeth are certainly an aesthetic concern, they can also disturb your natural bite height and cause jaw issues.

Acid Erosion

Dietary choices can certainly accelerate tooth wear through acid erosion. Consuming acidic foods and beverages, like citrus fruits and wine, may lead to increased erosion.

Another factor is the consumption of sweet and sugary foods and drinks. Acid-secreting bacteria thrive on sugar, and these substances allow these harmful pathogens to flourish. Additionally, stomach acid can affect teeth through gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or frequent vomiting.

Dental erosion can lead to teeth that are unnaturally short or stunted. Tooth sensitivity is also a common symptom of acid erosion.

Prevention and Treatment

Most of the factors listed above cannot be eliminated entirely. Also, tooth wear is not reversible. Your teeth cannot regenerate lost enamel or heal cracks. For these reasons, prevention is paramount through nightguards and awareness of dietary habits. For bruxism, we create personalized nightguards to absorb the pressure created by grinding and protect your teeth.

Treatment, although not as ideal as prevention, can still be quite helpful. We provide custom crowns to help reinforce and protect damaged teeth. Our team also offers build-ups made from a special composite material to improve the shape and appearance of your teeth.

We can even replace unsalvagable teeth with dental implants, which are prosthetics that look and function almost identically to natural teeth.

We work with you to formulate a treatment plan that meets your needs and desires. Just because we notice teeth wear does not mean we will recommend extensive treatment. We simply want all our patients to be aware of the process and know that we are here to support their dental health.

Interested in an evaluation? Please call us today at (616) 957-0303 to schedule your visit.