As time passes, some dental wear and tear can inevitably happen. As strong as our teeth can be, they still have a difficult job, and regularly experience biting and chewing pressure. What you should be wary of is the effect that poor dental care and habits like teeth grinding can do to your smile. If you develop heavy tooth wear, your smile can appear prematurely aged and unattractive. You can also do damage that affects the health of your teeth.
After reviewing the condition of your teeth, your dentist can provide cosmetic improvements with porcelain veneers, or use dental crowns for teeth that are weakened or damaged in a way that affects their function.
Fully Addressing The Cosmetic And Oral Health Effects of Heavy Tooth Wear
If your teeth experience too much wear and tear, it can lead to worrying effects for your smile, and for your overall oral health. Your dentist can work with you to make sure that the appropriate response is provided. In particularly advanced cases, your dentist may need to place dental crowns, to protect teeth (see example), and ensure you can handle biting and chewing pressures. In cases where the damage does not impact your dental function, porcelain veneers can make your smile look bright and flawless once again.
What causes mild to moderate tooth wear?
There are several reasons why tooth erosion may occur. Milder forms of wear can develop in patients who:
- Consume excessive amounts of sugary soft drinks or sugary fruit juices
- Have xerostomia – or chronic dry mouth
- Eat a diet high in sugars and starches
- Have acid reflux or GERD
- Take certain medications on a regular basis, like aspirin and antihistamines
- Have gastrointestinal problems
- Have inherited certain health conditions or disorders
What causes heavy tooth wear?
Severe or heavy tooth wear is usually caused by environmental factors, such as harmful behaviors or malocclusion (problems with the way your teeth fit together). To be more specific, certain types of advanced erosion can be described with these clinical terms:
- Attrition: Those who suffer from bruxism (chronic teeth grinding and clenching) experience tooth-to-tooth friction. This friction is referred to as attrition.
- Abrasion: This is often the result of improper flossing, brushing too hard, smokeless tobacco use, or chewing on hard objects like pens, pencils, or fingernails.
- Abfraction: Excess pressure can cause the teeth to bend and flex. This results in cracks or stress fractures called abfraction lesions. There are simple ways to prevent cracks.
- Corrosion: If the teeth are constantly exposed to acidic substances, corrosion can occur. This can happen in patients with GERD or frequent vomiting from alcoholism or bulimia. It may also develop from taking excessive amounts of aspirin.
Bruxism and Heavy Tooth Wear
If you grind your teeth because of ongoing issues with TMJ dysfunction, your dentist can work with you to relieve you of your discomfort, and stop you from habitually grinding your teeth. To protect your teeth from extreme pressure, Dr. Fondriest can create a custom oral appliance. This device fits snugly over the upper teeth and keeps them separated to prevent damage while you sleep.
What if I’ve already developed irreversible dental damage?
If tooth erosion has already occurred, there are several treatments that can help address the problem. Of course, the recommended avenue will depend on several factors, including the cause of wear, the patient’s personal preferences, and overall oral health. In the sections below, we’ll discuss three of the most common treatments for heavy tooth wear.
Mild enamel loss can be treated with dental bonding. This procedure involves the application of a composite resin material, which is tooth-colored to blend in with your smile.
To perform this treatment, Dr. Fondriest prepares the tooth surface by slightly roughening it with dental etch. This allows the bonding material to adhere properly. After rinsing and drying the tooth, the composite resin is applied and shaped to mimic natural tooth structure. Finally, the material is hardened with a special curing light, and the tooth is polished to a natural-looking shine.
Another option for correcting tooth erosion is porcelain veneers. These are thin – but super strong – shells made of layered ceramic. They are designed to adhere to the front surfaces of the teeth and can last at least 20 years in many cases.
To begin the treatment process, Dr. Fondriest takes impressions of your teeth. Our dental lab then fabricates a set of veneers to complement your natural dental anatomy. To place them, minimal amounts of enamel may need to be removed. However, once in place, veneers look and feel just like natural teeth. Porcelain veneers have an average lifespan of 5 to 15 years.
Patients with extremely heavy tooth wear may require dental crowns. These restorations fit over the entire tooth structure, providing reinforcement and strength. The crown not only reduces the risk of tooth decay, but it also helps prevent more structural damage. This structural damage can cause malocclusion or difficulty chewing.
To place a crown, Dr. Fondriest prepares the affected tooth so that it can properly support the restoration. Impressions are taken and sent to a lab for the fabrication of your new crown. Once it is complete, the new crown can be bonded into place. After checking your bite, Dr. Fondriest will make any necessary last-minute adjustments. Typically fro bruxers, there are three types of crowns that might be selected: PFM , Emax , and Zirconium.
It is important to note that whatever treatment is recommended for you, we may also suggest a custom oral appliance to protect your investment. If heavy tooth wear is the result of bruxism, then the constant grinding and clenching can damage your new restorations. Therefore, once we’ve corrected the problem, we will likely recommend this preventative measure.
Contact Us to Correct Heavy Tooth Wear
Restoring a smile that has heavy wear is a very complicated task. It is not normally the domain of a general dentist. it is very wise to get another opinion before important dental work such as this.
At Lake Forest Dental Arts, you can count on excellent oral health care. If you have a problem with something like heavy tooth wear and feel that there is no way to fully address the matter, make an appointment to find out how we can help! To schedule a consultation, call our office in Chicago, IL today at 847-234-0517. In addition to the metropolitan area, we also proudly serve many residents of the North Shore and Northwest suburbs.