The surface of your teeth is covered with a substance known as enamel. This is the hardest substance your body produces, and it does an excellent job keeping your teeth free from damage and decay. That said, repeated friction, wear, stress, and corrosion can erode surface enamel, leaving your teeth more prone to decay, breakage, and sensitivity.
That’s obviously something you’re going to want to avoid, so it’s time to learn about the common environmental causes so you can put a stop to them.
Attrition refers to tooth-on-tooth friction. It’s natural for teeth to meet and rub against each other – if they couldn’t you wouldn’t be able to chew or rest your mouth. However, too much tooth-on-tooth friction is often sustained when you make a habit of clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth. This might be something you do at night without even knowing it – if your jaw muscles or teeth feel sore right after you wake up, speak to your dentist.
Abrasion occurs when you bite or brush against objects with your teeth. If you bite down hard on a bottle cap or chew on a pen, you’re abrading your tooth enamel – the same is true when people chew tobacco, which comes with a whole host of problems all by itself. Worse still, chewing on pens and other objects during the day teaches your mouth to stay clenched, which increases the likelihood of night-time grinding.
Abfraction refers to the creation of stress fractures along the tooth. Like attrition, damage is caused by grinding, but in a different way. When you grind your teeth, you minutely flex or bend each one. Over time, this movement can create stress fissures that weaken surface enamel and open the way to less protected sections of a tooth, including the pulp.
If you’re worried that you may have signs of enamel erosion, get in contact with a dentist today.