As we age, we expect to experience some wear and tear on our teeth. However, there’s no reason why our teeth should show excessive wear, and teeth that are chipped or cracked from anything other than trauma is definitely not normal. Excessive wear and spontaneous chipping or cracking of teeth are due to an improper bite.
If you are concerned about the wear on your teeth, we can help. Dr. Paul Hahn and Dr. Adam Hahn know how to treat TMJ to prevent further wear on your teeth and can restore damaged teeth to their former size and shape. Please call (803) 781-9090 or email Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC to talk to our dentists about your worn or chipped teeth.
Your Teeth Should Rarely Touch
Ideally, your teeth should rarely touch. Your jaw is designed to remain slightly apart (about 1/8 inch, called “freeway space” in dental-speak) when you are at rest. Although your front teeth (incisors) may come together when biting off food, our teeth do not normally come together when chewing. Our muscles pull our teeth together, but in general they pull back before the teeth touch. Encountering a hard particle in food startles because we are not prepared for actual contact between the hard surfaces of our teeth.
Your teeth may touch during swallowing. The lower jaw is designed to hang loosely, and the teeth come together to stabilize the jaw for maximum effectiveness of the swallowing muscles.
Para-Function and Tooth Wear
Para-function is the only common cause of severe tooth wear. Para-function is another way to describe clenching or grinding of your teeth. This typically happens during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, but some people clench their teeth when anxious or focused. Unconscious clenching of teeth may have twice the strength of your voluntary bite force
Treating the Underlying Cause of Tooth Wear
Some dentists may want to restore worn teeth, but if you do not treat the underlying cause of wear, your restorations will quickly become worn and may fail prematurely. Worse, if your restorations are made of a highly durable material, your clenching or grinding may actually destroy your jawbone, causing receding gums and loose or missing teeth. To achieve a long-term comfortable solution, it’s crucial that you have the underlying cause of your worn teeth corrected before having restorations placed.
The most common cause of clenching and grinding teeth is malocclusion. The most common form of malocclusion that causes clenching and grinding is when the position of your teeth when chewing (called habitual occlusion) is different from the maximum rest position of your teeth (called neuromuscular occlusion).
If you have noticed excessive wear or chipping of your teeth, don’t let it continue to get worse. Call (803) 781-9090 or email Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today to find out how best to prevent future wear.