What Does Dental Abrasion Mean? Dental Abrasion Treatment
Tooth enamel should last a lifetime, but that’s not always the case. Dental abrasion is one of the main causes of enamel loss. Learning about this condition and its causes can help you make healthy decisions that will preserve your tooth enamel.
When an outside force rubs away your enamel, it’s a problem known as dental abrasion. This is a gradual condition that may get worse and worse over time. Eventually, dental abrasion can affect the look of your teeth. It can also increase their sensitivity and susceptibility to decay.
The American Dental Association has developed a scale for measuring the abrasiveness of oral care products. It’s called the Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA) scale. The ADA considers pastes with an RDA score of 250 or below to be generally safe for everyday use. The Food and Drug Administration prefers a top RDA limit of 200.
The Signs and Causes of Dental Abrasion
When you look at yourself in the mirror, you may spot some of the signs of dental abrasion. There could be a groove or an indentation in your tooth near the gum line. That area may be darker than the rest of your tooth. Also, increased tooth sensitivity may alert you to this problem.
What would cause your enamel to wear away? The most common causes are related to toothbrushing habits. Brush bristles that are too hard or paste that is too abrasive can scrape away at the teeth. Moving your toothbrush in an up-and-down pattern instead of a circular one can also cause this problem. Pressing too hard with the brush can do it as well. Other sources of dental abrasion include chewing on hard objects, including your fingernails, and running a tongue piercing across your teeth.
Dental Abrasion Treatment
You can’t regrow tooth enamel. In that case, is there anything you can do about dental abrasion? Yes, there is. Both at home and with your dentist’s help, you can work to protect your teeth and improve their appearance.
Oral Care Changes
If you are experiencing enamel loss, adjusting your oral care habits can help. It won’t restore the enamel you’ve already lost, but it can help prevent further damage. Your dentist might recommend using a different toothpaste or changing your brushing style.
Your dental team might advise that you undergo a procedure to fill in the space where your enamel used to be. Composite is a filling material that matches the color of your natural teeth. The doctor can adhere this material to your abrasion indentations so that the grooves are no longer noticeable. This procedure can also help protect against tooth decay in the area.
Restorative fillings might not be enough to treat severe dental abrasion. An oral surgeon may need to perform a more complex procedure. The doctor will reposition your gums so that they hide the affected part of the tooth. That could require grafting tissue from elsewhere in your mouth.
Abrasive Dental Care Products
If it’s on the store’s shelf, it’s good for your teeth, right? Not so fast! All oral care products aren’t created the same. It’s possible that you’re buying tooth care products that are contributing to dental abrasion.
It’s no secret that some toothbrushes have firmer bristles than others. In general, softer bristles are better for your teeth. Hard ones are more likely to wear away at your enamel. Stiff bristles may be even more likely to cause damage if you press too hard with them or move your brush in straight lines instead of circles.
You want a pearly white smile, but conventional whitening toothpaste may do more harm than good. Whitening products often rely on rough ingredients like silica or chalk to rub out stains. As a result, some whitening pastes have an RDA score above 100, and many are closer to 200. While those ratings are generally considered acceptable, they’re still going to cause more abrasion than a variety with a lower score.
Natural Products: Surprisingly Gentle on Your Teeth
Fortunately, conventional whitening pastes aren’t the only way to achieve a glowing smile. There are natural products that can do the job, too, and they may be less likely to destroy your enamel. One popular choice is baking soda. On the RDA scale, baking soda receives an impressively low score of 7!
Other common choices for natural toothpaste ingredients are bentonite clay and activated charcoal. Their specific RDAs may depend on how finely they’re ground. In general, though, fine charcoal powder scores about a 70, and bentonite clay gets a rating of 86.
In other words, natural tooth whiteners can be a smart, safe choice for your oral health. Toothpaste varieties that include these ingredients often have lower RDA ratings than many of the whitening pastes sold at big-box stores. If you want to achieve a dazzling smile without risking your long-term enamel health, give natural toothpaste with baking soda, bentonite clay or charcoal a try.