WHAT ARE DENTAL ABFRACTIONS?
Dental abfractions are small notches that develop right at the base of the teeth, just above the gum line. They can be caused by too much stress being placed on the teeth. This is something that can result due to biting and chewing forces, or it can develop as a result of clenching and grinding habits. The pressure causes small fractures and cracks to occur in the outer surface of the tooth enamel, especially in the section where it is thinnest right at the base of the teeth.
These types of lesions are quite common in older adults, and tend to occur more frequently in the back teeth, in molars and premolars. They can develop into wedge shaped notches that will weaken the overall structure of the tooth, but are not likely to decay. However weakening the tooth in this way does increase the chances of it breaking at some point in the future.
SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS
Dental abfractions do not usually cause any symptoms although the teeth can feel more sensitive, especially if the notches have exposed the softer dentin layer that lies directly beneath the tooth enamel. They are not likely to cause pain.
Dental abfractions can be diagnosed during an exam at Midtown Dentistry, and most will be monitored but not necessarily treated. They will not heal, and some might become slightly worse and may eventually need filling. This can also help to add strength to the weakened tooth.
PREVENTING DENTAL ABFRACTIONS
Most dental abfractions cannot be prevented as they occur due to the forces created during biting and chewing. However if you suffer from teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism), then asking your dentist to fit you with a night guard will give your teeth some protection through helping to reduce the pressure on them. Night guards work by preventing the teeth from coming into contact during sleep. Your dentist might also be able to adjust your bite, as sometimes one or two teeth come under additional pressure due to the teeth biting together incorrectly.
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