What are those dents in my teeth?

I get asked frequently about “dents” or depressions that develop right at the area where the gum tissue meets the tooth structure. Sometimes these are areas of concern to my patients because the worn or chipped out areas are darker yellow looking than enamel. Just as often my patient complain of sensitivity to cold air or fluid and even brushing or some acid foods.

There are usually two causes of these areas. We as dentist have a tendency to describe this type of “wear” as tooth brush abrasion and it may be caused by aggressive tooth brushing on the weaker dentin or root surface of the teeth. Frequently however, a process called ABFRACTION is also occurring. AFRACTION is the microscopic fracturing away of tiny bits of enamel right at the gum line usually due to clinching or grinding behaviors unrelated to chewing. Both causes frequently occur together.

Treatment for these area can range from nothing for minor abrasion from tooth brushing; to treatment with re-mineralizing medicaments (fluorides); to more involved treatments including composite bonding of dented areas; and the fabrication of a protective guard worn on the teeth during most common times clinching or grinding occurs.

Left untreated the affects can include tooth sensitivity, nerve breakdown, T.M.J. (joint) problems, and other potential problems. Please have your dentist evaluate these areas in the mouth. Treatment is simple, not painful, long lasting and beautiful.


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