Our teeth are strong, but they’re not invincible. As we age and as our teeth go through daily wear for years and years, it’s natural for them to begin to show a little wear. But while some wear and tear is natural, excessive wear is probably a warning sign of another problem, and chips or cracks as a result of regular, day-to-day wear is never normal.
Why Are Your Teeth So Worn?
Enamel is the hardest substance in the body, which is what protects your teeth from being damaged by all the hard work we put our teeth through every day. Between eating and talking, our mouths are in near constant motion. But when enamel hits enamel, that strength can be turned against your teeth and cause wear.
This is usually not a problem, because in a healthy mouth, the teeth should rarely touch. When you’re not chewing or speaking, your jaw’s at-rest position should leave your teeth with a little space between them. If your teeth are hitting each other often, that can be a big source of damage.
Worried that your teeth might be unusually worn? The most common cause of excessive tooth wear is bruxism, which just means the clenching or grinding of the teeth. Some people suffer from bruxism as a result of stress, and some people have sleep bruxism, making them clench or grind their teeth unconsciously in their sleep. One common cause of bruxism is a bad bite, known more formally as malocclusion. If your teeth fit together in a way that creates tension in your jaw, you have a bad bite.
Correcting Worn Teeth
If you’ve approached a dentist about your tooth wear before, you may have received a recommendation for reconstructive dentistry. But while dental crowns or dental bonding would certainly be able to build back up your damaged teeth, if you don’t treat the underlying cause of the wear, no solution is truly complete.
Instead, your dentist’s top priority should be treating your malocclusion. Step one is to have a healthy mouth, and then step two can focus in on aesthetics.
Of course, if you have a bad bite, bruxism may not be your only symptom. If you also suffer from jaw pain, headaches, or popping and clicking sounds (among other symptoms), you may have TMJ.
An experienced neuromuscular dentist can treat all these things by correcting a bad bite. First they’ll perform a TENS treatment, an electric therapy designed to relax the muscles in the jaw and allow your teeth to find their ideal bite. This will allow your dentist to thoroughly map your bite so they can provide the best suited treatment. That treatment may be a bite splint, a sort of mouthguard that holds your jaw in a better bite position to alleviate tension. A mouthguard can also help protect your teeth and restorations from future wear.