Tooth wear usually occurs on the biting surfaces of teeth from a tooth making contact with another tooth. The cause of the tooth wear is generally from grinding or clenching habits, which often occur at night during sleep and are not usually controllable. Tooth wear can range from mild to severe and can lead to problems such as tooth sensitivity, chips, fractures and even infections in severe cases if left untreated. If you have tooth wear, let your dentist know, and they will recommend treatment options to suit your smile.
Tooth wear from grinding appears as flattened down biting surfaces. This happens due to teeth rubbing together and grinding away the top surfaces of the teeth. In more severe cases, the teeth will look shorter and smaller. Teeth may also look yellow due to the exposed underlying tooth structure once the enamel layer is ground away.
Clenching is when the jaw clamps down and uses pressure to push the teeth together against each other for short or more extended periods. Clenching also usually happens at night as a form of a sleep motion disorder, although some people may find themselves clenching during the day during stressful situations. Clenching will appear as grooves or indentations on the biting surfaces of the molars from the opposing teeth. Symptoms may include headache, sore neck and jaw and a clicking jaw. The teeth may also appear yellow due to the underlying tooth structure showing through.
The most effective treatment for clenching and grinding is to wear a nightguard, as it primarily occurs at night. The night guard takes the force from the jaw and acts as a cushion, protecting the teeth. The night guard distributes forces evenly so wear cannot occur. In severe cases of tooth wear from clenching and grinding, the wear spots may need to be filled in before the night guard can be made. This is done to protect the teeth from sensitivity, cavities and chipping.
If you believe you have tooth wear, or a clenching or grinding habit, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.