“I Thought I was Brushing Too Hard…”
Up until a few years ago, dentists were taught that areas of gum recession and commonly seen notching were caused by a toothbrush with bristles that are too hard, or an improper brushing technique. Research has since shown that we were wrong. In fact, it is clenching and grinding that causes notching of the teeth.
When your bite is slightly off, it is common for one tooth to hit sooner than the rest. This causes undue stress on the involved teeth and they begin to flex. If this continues, the enamel at the root area begins to flake off. This is what causes the familiar looking notches called abfractions.
What will happen if these notches and areas of recession are not corrected?
• Decay, further bone loss, and even fracture – Left untreated, the damaging forces continue to stress the roots, resulting in further gum recession and erosion. This weakens teeth and may lead to decay, further bone loss and even fracture.
• Loose teeth – “interferences” in your bite are a primary cause of these abfraction “notches.” Teeth may therefore become loose due to the constant knocking of the teeth during sleep.
• Unsightly appearance – Cosmetically, the affected teeth will appear to grow longer. In patients with a broad smile, this can be very unseemly, giving a fang-like appearance.
What can be done to preserve your teeth? There are three steps:
• Fix the bite – Check for “interferences.” If problems are found, adjustments can be made so the forces are evenly distributed over all the teeth.
• Fix the tooth – Restore damaged teeth. This is a painless procedure. Using the same materials used for cosmetic bonding, a tooth can be restored to its original appearance. Using the latest technology such as lasers, high energy curing lights, the procedure is performed without drilling, and is comfortable and easy for the patient.
• Prevent Nighttime damage – In cases which the patient has many abfraction notches that appear to be getting worse, a bite guard may be required. This will protect teeth from nighttime clenching and grinding.
Dr. Roger Chehova and Dr. Vincent M. Cefola are located at 1865 Williamsbridge Road, Bronx, New York 10461 and have been practicing dentistry in the community for the past 23 years. They have numerous continuing education credits and affiliations. You can contact them at (718) 892-2042.
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