Why Are My Teeth Wearing Away?
By Yvonne DeLoache, DDS
Have you noticed that your front teeth seem to be getting shorter or smaller? Do the edges of your lower front teeth appear worn, with whitish- colored enamel around the outside and an area of yellow to brown color in the middle? Why do you have nicks at the gum line of various teeth, especially the teeth on the sides of your mouth? Or why are your gums receding showing the roots of your teeth and making them look longer and you look older? Why are your grandfather’s teeth in your mouth?!! What is going on? Help!
Sadly our teeth do wear away from use as we age but much of the destruction we see in our teeth is self-induced. Our teeth are damaged and wear for several major reasons. First, many people clench or grind their teeth or have a problem in their biting pattern. Second, our teeth are damaged by the way we brush or by using our teeth as tools. Third, our teeth are damaged by chemicals in our food or in our own GI system. Each of these problems has a name and the good news is that they are treatable. So if you have noticed this type of wear on your teeth don’t despair, don’t hide what looks like an aging smile behind your hand when you laugh, and definitely don’t start saving for dentures. There are solutions.
Types of wear and damage
ATTRITION: wearing of the biting/chewing surfaces of teeth.
The most common causes to this problem are grinding (Bruxism) and clenching, often during sleep. However, clenching and grinding can occur at any time, as it appears to be a response to stress. Another cause for excessive wear is an incorrect biting pattern. This can be the result of missing and shifting teeth that no longer bite together properly and wear unevenly.
PROBLEM: Teeth can become sensitive and finally painful requiring extensive and costly treatment. Serious TMJ problems can develop.
ABRASION: damage caused by tooth brushing habits or use of foreign objects in the mouth.
Improper tooth brushing, like scrubbing back and forth with the toothbrush, can cause our gums to recede exposing the yellowish root and even cut a grove into the root surface. Further, all manner of damage can be caused by habits like nail biting, chewing pens and pencils, or opening things and holding items in our teeth.
PROBLEM: Teeth can appear long and unattractive, are much more susceptible to decay and gum line fractures, often become sensitive to touch and temperature, making eating certain foods uncomfortable, again may require
EROSION: dissolving of the tooth surface from acids. Many of our foods and drinks today are strongly acidic and filled with sugar. The acid from the chemicals actually dissolves the enamel of our teeth and the sugar results in increased acid production, leading to tooth decay.
(Alternative: Drink water – both your teeth and your waistline will thank you.)
Another cause of serious damage to our teeth can be acid from the digestive tract. This condition is known as acid reflux. Even without other symptoms, if you notice that your teeth look or feel thinner in the front or that your back teeth look more yellow and are developing pits or depressions, consult your dentist right away. This can be a sign of a systemic problem with your digestive tract that needs to
PROBLEM: Same as attrition and abrasion combined with the possibility of GI tract disorder.
So what can you do?
These issues can easily be addressed by your dentist. You don’t have to just tolerate an unattractive smile or uncomfortable teeth. It is not just a part of getting older. Many affordable options and comfortable treatments are available in dentistry today, to restore your teeth and jaws to good health and to give you a beautiful smile.
About Dr. DeLoache
Originally from Ohio, Dr. Yvonne DeLoache graduated from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. After her residency she moved to Pennsylvania and opened a practice in West Chester. She has been a “hometown, family dentist” ever since. Performing all areas general and cosmetic dentistry, Dr. DeLoache truly enjoys taking care of her patients, getting to know them well, answering their questions, and allaying their fears. Along with her clinical practice she also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Dental Medicine which allows her to be exposed to the latest in dental treatment and technology. Dr. DeLoache and her husband R. Blake Edmonds, DMD have two grown sons. They are longtime members of The Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli. In her free time, Dr. DeLoache enjoys reading, writing, painting, and has recently
started fly fishing.
Call Us at (610) 696-9135 • www.drdeloache.com
301 South High Street, West Chester, PA 19382-3336