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General Dentistry

Tooth Wear

Tooth wear is the loss of the tooth’s surface that is not caused by decay or trauma. This issue can affect the enamel, dentine, or pulp of a tooth and is split into three types:

tooth wear

1. Attrition

This is the mechanical wearing down of the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This is caused by excessive tooth to tooth contact, such as in bruxism. Attrition causes teeth to lose their cusps and become flat and unsightly. It can also cause sensitivity.

Treatment for attrition

  1. Bruxism should be investigated as it can cause severe damage to teeth, fillings, and crowns. If bruxism exists, then either a soft or hard night guard should be used, depending on the clinical situation.
  2. The damage to teeth should be repaired carefully by using composite white fillings, onlays or crowns.

2. Abrasion

Abrasion is the wearing down of the tooth surface due to an incorrect brushing technique. Furthermore, the use of a hard brush can also be to blame. Abrasion causes the gums to recede and exposes the dentine on the root surfaces of the teeth. This can result in an unsightly yellow colour on the teeth and can make the teeth more sensitive.

Treatment of abrasion

  1. Switching to a soft brush or an electric toothbrush can also help to reduce abrasion.
  2. Where the root surface is exposed, it should be covered by composite resin fillings to stop the dentine sensitivity.

3. Erosion

Erosion is the loss of tooth structure due to exposure to acidic substances which dissolve away the surface of the tooth. Fizzy drinks and citrus fruit juices have high acid content and can cause erosion. Acidic fruits such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits can cause erosion too.

Certain medical problems also cause erosion:

  1. Heartburn or acid reflux
  2. Anorexia or bulimia
  3. Excessive alcohol intake

Treatment of Erosion

  1. Where dietary factors are causing the erosion, this should be pointed out to the patient and stopped. Where medical problems have caused erosion, medical advice should be sought.
  2. Saliva production should be encouraged to neutralise the acids that cause erosion. Saliva production is increased by the use of sugar-free gum.
  3. Deep erosion cavities should be repaired by composite resin fillings or crowns.

With tooth wear, it is very important that the cause is correctly identified and managed. Also, some patients suffer from more than one cause of tooth wear. Simply treating one cause of wear and ignoring the other will not stop the damage to the patient’s teeth.

Once the type and cause of the tooth wear is correctly identified, a prevention programme should be put in place to stop further damage. Damage already caused by tooth wear should be repaired by an experienced dentist or Specialist Prosthodontist. At Pearl Dental Clinic, we treat simple to complex tooth wear cases.


Pearl Dental Clinic is open 7 days a week from 9am-10pm. You can book a tooth wear consultation by calling us on 0208 547 9997 or by emailing us or book an appointment online (available 24 hours/day)


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