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DENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

DENTAL HEALTH

MATTERS TOOTH WEAR

Dr Trevor Bigg, Milton Dental Practice BDS, MGDS RCS(Eng), FDS RCS(Ed), FFGDP(UK)

Due to advances in medical science, the population of the UK is living longer than ever before. Living longer means that our teeth are retained for longer as well. Although this is a good thing it brings its own set of problems, namely tooth wear. What is Tooth Wear? Tooth wear is divided into three types: • Attrition This is best described as ‘tooth-on-tooth’ wear. In past centuries coarse food caused much wear to the teeth. In modern times our food is nowhere near as coarse as it used to be, but we’ve replaced the wear from food with habits such as bruxism, the repeated clenching or grinding of teeth. Bruxism wears down the biting surfaces and can cause fractures of teeth and fillings. • Abrasion Abrasion is caused by the action of an external force on the tooth surface. The classic example of this is toothbrush abrasion. A conventional hand toothbrush is sometimes used with too much pressure, particularly if we want to remove staining on the teeth. This can form a groove at the gum margin, where hard enamel gives way to the softer material covering the root. With the toothbrush alone, it’s possible to cut deep within the root surface and even through to the nerve of the tooth - leading to an abscess. • Erosion Erosion comes from acid attacking the teeth surface. The acid can come from within the body or from the diet. Erosion from within the body is caused by gastric reflux, or heartburn. Many people suffer from this complaint, which becomes more common as the years pass by, but many more have reflux to a lesser degree and are not aware of it. Erosion from the diet is caused by 82

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“Living longer means that our teeth are retained for longer as well. Although this is a good thing it brings its own set of problems, namely tooth wear.” the consumption of acid foods and drinks. How do we prevent Tooth Wear? We can reduce its effects by taking the following steps:

• Erosion – medication can be helpful in reducing gastric reflux. Diet discussion with the dentist or hygienist will help reduce acid from food and drink.

• Attrition – regular visits to the dentist will ensure that any tooth wear is monitored closely. Sometimes a night guard is worn to reduce further wear. Damaged areas can be repaired using toothcoloured fillings, see www.drbigg.com/gallery.

If you want more information about the contents of this article, go to www.dentalhealth.org/ tell-me-about/topic or contact Penny at Milton Dental Practice on 01993 831 396 or email penny@drbigg.com and come to see us for a consultation.

• Abrasion – change to a modern electric toothbrush with a Pressure Sensor. This lights up if we push too hard and prevents further wear.

For details of an exclusive discount for Cotswold Homes readers, please see Trevor Biggs’s offer on page 9!

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