Are Your Teeth Worn Down?

In Teeth by Dr. Donald Johnson

If you’re 50 or older, chances are you’ve noticed a few grey hairs and maybe a wrinkle or two — but you probably haven’t noticed the fact that your teeth may be changing, too. In fact, the enamel on their surface may have started to wear away — putting your smile in serious danger.  And it may be an important symptom of a dangerous condition known as sleep apnea.

You see, even though tooth enamel is the hardest substance in our bodies, it can wear down, exposing the softer dentin inside the tooth and leading to some very serious problems.   When you think about how hard we ask our teeth to work, that’s really no surprise.

For starters there’s all the biting and chewing we do every day. And there are lots of other factors too, like drinking too many soft drinks, chewing on things like ice, and grinding our teeth – not to mention various medical conditions, drugs and supplements.  Clenching and grinding are main symptoms of sleep apnea.

All those factors pile up, with the result that by the time you’re 50 or so the enamel on your teeth – particularly the teeth in the front of your mouth – can be so worn that the dentin begins to show through as yellow spots at the middle or edge of a tooth. The dentin can “cup” as well, causing what some dentists refer to as “potholes” in your teeth.  It may be that your teeth are ground down to a straight line across the tooth and the edges are sharp 90 degree angles rather than rounded corners.

Potential Tooth Damage or Loss

What’s worse, the thinning edges of these “potholes” then begin to develop chips and micro-fractures, setting the stage for a downward spiral that can lead to the need for expensive and time-consuming dental work like root canals and crowns or even the loss of teeth.

That’s a shame – and totally unnecessary – because there are simple and effective ways to repair worn enamel and prevent future problems, if the condition is caught promptly.  Unfortunately, this potentially devastating condition is not something you’re likely to notice on your own – at least not in its earliest stages.  Most often there’s no pain associated with enamel loss, although some people do notice increased sensitivity to hot and cold.

As for appearance, you might possibly see areas of yellow dentin if you examined your teeth very carefully using a good magnifying mirror and an extremely bright light. Even using these tools, though, you’d only be able to detect the problem AFTER you had already lost a considerable amount of enamel.

The good news is that our office looks for signs of enamel wear every time you visit. And, if we see a problem, we have the tools to fix it.

­High tech repair

Basically, what we do when we see a problem is very gently reshape the affected area, then flow in an ultra high tech composite resin that matches your enamel in both color and strength.  This resin is bonded to the existing tooth.

The process is simple, quick and so comfortable it rarely requires anesthetic. And we can reinforce and protect as many teeth as needed in just one visit.  What’s more, this simple repair should last for many, many years – and, if needed, we can touch the resin up or redo it quickly and easily.

When you consider that this simple procedure can help you keep your teeth – and avoid all the time, drilling, anesthetic and expense of root canals and crowns – it’s hard to think of a more effective way to preserve your smile.  If you’d like to know more, just ask. We’ll be happy to fill you in on all the details about this important treatment.