Broken and Worn Teeth

As you age, it's completely natural for your tooth enamel to slowly wear down. However a number of adults are experience excessive wear beyond what's considered normal. This can lead to a number of problems, from an unattractive smile to tooth sensitivity. When treating worn teeth, it's best to address this problem sooner rather than later before too much tooth structure is lost.

Common Causes of Tooth Wear: In some patients, tooth wear has a single cause, and in other patients, the wear is brought on by a combination of several of these factors.

Grinding and Clenching

If you grind or clench your teeth when you're feeling stressed or anxious, this can cause the enamel to wear down prematurely. When you grind one tooth against another, the friction can slowly rub away the enamel. Clenching your jaw leads to the formation of micro-cracks in the tooth enamel. The enamel around these cracks then wears away more easily when you chew or brush your teeth.

Physical Abrasion

Similar to how sandpaper wears away at wood, chewing on hard items like fingernails and pen caps can slowly take away the enamel on your teeth. Brushing too hard with an overly stiff toothbrush can have a similar effect. This is one reason dentists generally recommend using a soft toothbrush and a gentle touch when brushing.

Acidic Foods and Beverages

When you consume acidic foods or beverages, the acid weakens your enamel. Then the enamel is more easily worn away when you brush your teeth or chew harder foods. Common acidic foods and beverages include sodas, citrus juices, and tomato sauce. Those with bulimia also experience acid wear due to frequent exposure of their teeth to acidic stomach contents.

Problems Caused By Worn Teeth

Many patients first notice their teeth are showing wear when they look in the mirror. However, excessive tooth wear can cause an array of other issues that you may not immediately realize are associated with the wear.

Yellowed Teeth

Your enamel is naturally quite white, but the layer beneath it—the dentin—is yellowish. As your enamel wears away and becomes thinner, the dentin starts showing through, and your teeth develop a more yellowed appearance. This is usually most obvious along the chewing surfaces of the teeth.

Sensitivity

Do you experience a piercing pain when you sip something hot or cold? This sensitivity is likely due to the thinness of your worn enamel. The hot and cold items are coming into close contact with the nerve endings in the dentin of your teeth, causing an overreaction.

Headaches and Jaw Aches

When your teeth are badly worn down, they don't always come together properly. This misalignment in your bite can cause strain in your jaw, and this strain can radiate and lead to headaches.

Difficulty Biting and Chewing

The bite misalignment that results from excessive tooth wear may also make it harder to bite into items like apples and carrots. You may also struggle to chew since your teeth no longer fit together properly.