Worn Down Teeth?

Tooth wear is the loss of hard dental tissue the cause of which is both mechanical and chemical. It is characterised by the loss of the natural tooth surface.

Tooth wear is a prevalent condition and tends to accumulate with age. Our modern lifestyle changes including increasingly acidic diets and overenthusiastic brushing, have led to increased prevalence of tooth wear in younger generations. Most people can expect to keep their teeth for life, so it is important that tooth wear is identified swiftly and managed appropriately.

There are 3 main causes of tooth wear:


This is where acid dissolves the tooth surface. There are two types of acid:
• Intrinsic acid: where gastric acid brought back up the alimentary tract into the mouth by either regurgitation, vomiting or involuntary gastro-oesophageal reflux disease
• Extrinsic acid: where acids are brought into the mouth such as dietary acids, acidic medicines or occupational exposure to acidic fumes

Erosion is recognised as the dominant factor in tooth wear with acid softening the surface layer of the tooth making it more prone to physical damage from the other causes of tooth wear; abrasion and attrition.


Abrasion is the tooth surface is worn away by something other than teeth. Most frequently abrasive tooth wear is associated with traumatic toothbrushing.


Attrition is where the tooth his worn away by tooth-to-tooth contact, most commonly tooth clenching and grinding which are habits that people may not be aware of.

Your saliva is the best protective factor for the prevention of erosion. It acts to dilute, neutralise and clear acids and helps remineralise the tooth surface as it is full of the minerals that your tooth is made from.

If you have a reduced salivary flow you are at an increased risk of erosive tooth wear. The main causes of reduced saliva are:

  • Ageing
  • Radiation therapy or chemotherapy
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes and Sjogrens Syndrome
  • Medications such as antidepressants and sleeping medications.

Other risk factors that increase the risk of tooth wear include:

  • Frequent consumption of dietary acids: soft drinks, fresh fruit, fruit juices, pickles, sports drinks etc
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Eating disorders
  • Occupational: competitive swimmers, wine tasters
  • Bruxism
  • Chronic dehydration

Tooth wear is an irreversible process, except in the very early stages, and gets worse with age.
For many people a worn dentition can present the following problems:

  • Pain and sensitivity; sometimes the pain is so severe a root canal treatment is needed
  • Poor appearance
  • Reduced function

At Renew Dental Lounge we’ll check for signs of wear at your regular check-ups and monitor this throughout your life. In cases where we do detect wear, we will help identify the cause and work with you to prevent the wear from worsening. We will work with you to create treatment options individualised to you.

Book an appointment to discuss your concerns about your teeth.

Let us help to Renew Your Smile

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