Dental Abfractions: What Are They and How Can You Protect Your Smile?
Not all tooth erosion is caused by decay. Dental abfractions are a little known form of tooth erosion that can lead to serious dental damage if left untreated. Restorative dentistry treatments can treat dental abfractions and other dental issues to reveal a beautiful, healthy smile. Although restorative treatments are available, preventing dental abfractions is best. Learn more about dental abfractions and how to protect your smile in this overview from Lake Jackson, TX dentists Brian Bell and Justin Crocker.
What Are Dental Abfractions?
Dental abfractions are a type of tooth erosion unrelated to tooth decay. Dental abfractions, also known as abfraction lesions, refer to small notches that develop near the gum line. Dental abfractions often start as angular notches and may become rounded over time.
What Causes Dental Abfractions?
Dental abfractions are caused by a mechanical process, not tooth decay. Daily force and stress can eventually wear down the enamel near the gum line, where the teeth are naturally vulnerable. This particular area near the gum line is believed to be susceptible to abfraction damage because it is where the enamel stops and the cementum layer of the teeth begins. With that said, it's important to note that normal forces from chewing and biting generally don't result in abfraction lesions. Instead, dental abfractions are generally caused by excessive forces or strain from teeth grinding and clenching, or an abnormal bite (malocclusion).
Dental Abfractions and Dental Damage
Dental abfractions are a permanent form of dental damage. The only way to treat dental abfractions and restore oral health is to undergo professional treatment. It's important to seek treatment for dental abfractions because they can lead to serious dental damage, including tooth decay, root canal infections, and ultimately tooth loss.
Preventing Dental Abfractions
Most dental abfractions are caused by malocclusion or teeth grinding. Treating malocclusion and teeth grinding can help prevent abfractions from developing. If dental abfractions develop, there are treatments available to restore dental health and prevent further damage, such as:
- Orthodontics: Orthodontic methods, such as traditional metal braces or Invisalign®, can correct the bite issues that cause dental abfractions by redistributing the bite forces evenly across the teeth.
- Teeth grinding treatment: Those who suffer from chronic teeth grinding or clenching, called bruxism, may develop abfraction lesions. Teeth grinding treatment can help protect the teeth from further abfraction damage and other damage caused by teeth grinding. Wearing a custom-made bite guard or occlusal splint while sleeping is highly effective at protecting the teeth from damage.
- Tooth-colored fillings: Tooth-colored fillings are highly effective at restoring teeth damaged by dental abfractions. Tooth-colored fillings are applied directly to the teeth to restore lost tooth structure and repair interrupted enamel. For those who already have abfraction lesions, orthodontics or teeth grinding treatment may be combined with tooth-colored fillings to restore dental health and prevent further abfraction damage.
Protect Your Smile
Dental abfractions are dangerous to your oral health but they can be treated. If you suspect you suffer from a dental abfraction, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Bell and Crocker.