Feeling Worn Down?
For many people, tooth wear is not simply part and parcel of aging. Their teeth have worn down significantly more than what we can attribute to simple wear and tear through normal use. It was thought that overuse of the teeth occurred with the height of teeth being ground down from clenching and grinding as a result of stress. Repeated vigorous scrubbing of the teeth with a hard tooth brush every day would explain notches and grooves at the necks of teeth near the gum.
However, we now know that this overuse of the teeth is only part of the problem. Sound, healthy teeth will not wear down very easily by tooth-to-tooth clenching and grinding or with toothbrushes no matter how hard the bristles or how hard we brush. Enamel is the hardest substance in the body and not easily worn down. If the enamel is softened, however, then it is much more susceptible to being worn away. The other part of the tooth wear problem is acidity in the mouth which leads to softened enamel.
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Anyone Can Be Worn Down!
Tooth wear has become more prevalent in our modern society. It is not only a problem for the elderly but can affect children, young adults, and older people. Besides looking noticeably shorter, worn teeth are sometimes discoloured and can be sensitive to cold, hot or sweet foods and drinks. As they do not show much, if any, of their teeth when they smile, people with worn teeth can give the impression that they have no teeth at all.
Besides not being aesthetically pleasing, it may also be more difficult to pronounce certain sounds and eat with shortened teeth. Sometimes it’s not just the length of a tooth that wears down, but the neck of the tooth near the gum can also wear, leaving sensitive notches and grooves. Worn teeth can lead to more severe damage such as fractures and chips in the tooth. It can also affect dental work so is best addressed before new fillings, crowns or other dental repairs.
Am I Worn Out Forever?
Tooth wear is very treatable, and the benefits of treating tooth wear are significant for your day to day dental health:
- Aesthetic improvements
- No more teeth sensitivity
- Better speech and pronounciation
- Reduced risk of tooth decay and tooth damage
- Reduced risk of nerve problems and the need for root canal treatments
- Prevents the need for artificial teeth replacements
Do You Always Feel Worn Down?
The reason why tooth wear occurs in some people more than others comes down to the acidic environment of their mouths as well as the protective response of their saliva. Someone who consumes a lot of acidic food and drink, such as lemon and lime and other citrus fruits, cola and other fizzy drinks, sports drinks and wine, expose their teeth to more acid and are at greater risk of tooth structure loss due to acid erosion.
Someone who suffers from dry mouth and whose salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva is more at risk of severe tooth wear as they have less protective tooth remineralisation from their saliva. Some people miss out on the repair from their saliva as they do not consume enough water while others are very active or consume too much caffeine, a known diuretic, and are dehydrated.