Preventing Damage from Dental Abfractions
By Dr. David Wyse on July 21, 2016
Most dental patients are familiar with tooth decay and work hard to keep the teeth and gums clean so they can prevent dental damage. This vigilance is important. Unfortunately, tooth decay is not the only condition that can threaten the structure of the teeth. Dental abfractions are a fairly common oral health problem among our patients at Chrisman & Wyse Cosmetic & General Dentistry. Abfractions, which are areas of enamel loss that are not caused by decay, can weaken the teeth and increase the risk of further dental complications. Our dentists offer restorative dentistry treatments to rebuild lost or damaged tooth enamel so we can repair abfractions and restore oral health. In addition to restorative abfraction treatment, we also offer our Bloomington, IN patients mouth guards to prevent further dental abfractions from developing.
What Are Abfractions?
There are certain dental terms that are widely familiar, such as cavities, fillings, and tooth decay. However, there are also those that are not so well known. Although many people have not heard of abfractions, they are actually fairly common. Abfractions are small notches that can develop at the base of a tooth, near the gum line. These notches are formed as a result of tooth tissue being lost. These notches are not caused by a buildup of plaque or tartar. Instead, abfractions are the result of excessive wear and tear.
What Causes Abfractions?
Abfractions develop gradually as a result of excessive force or pressure. The most common cause of tooth abfractions is teeth grinding and clenching. This habit, which is called bruxism, is practiced by roughly 25 percent of the population. Grinding and clenching typically takes place while a patient sleeps, so most people are unaware they practice this harmful habit until damage has already developed.
Dental abfractions may differ from tooth decay in their cause, but they share the same consequences. Tooth abfractions weaken the teeth, compromise oral comfort and functions, and can leave the inner layer of the tooth exposed. This increases the risk of tooth infection and other dental complications. To prevent further oral health problems, it is important to rebuild a tooth that has been compromised by a tooth abfraction. The most common treatment for a tooth abfraction is a composite. Our dentists use a tooth-colored compound to fill in the recess that was created by the dental abfraction. A dental filling restores the shape and aesthetics of the tooth while providing a protective seal that blocks bacteria from entering the inner structures of the tooth.
An equally important part of abfraction treatment is preventing further abfractions from developing. The most effective way to prevent bruxism, and the complications that come along with it, is with a mouth guard. When worn while a patient sleeps, a dental mouth guard stops bruxism and prevents damage to tooth enamel. Our dentists offer custom-fit mouth guards that fit comfortably so that they protect the teeth without interfering with a patient’s sleep. If a patient has already been treated for an abfraction, or has signs of dental damage, then a custom mouth guard will likely be recommended.
Even the smallest dental abfraction can have a significant impact on a patient’s oral health, so it is important to treat these imperfections. To learn more about dental abfractions and your treatment options, contact us at your earliest convenience. The experienced team of dentists at Chrisman & Wyse Cosmetic & General Dentistry can answer any questions you may have.
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