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Are You at Risk of Dental Abfractions?

By Dr. Everett Heringer on August 06, 2016


A diagram showing a normal tooth and a tooth with abfractionDental abfractions, also called abfraction lesions, are a form of tooth erosion that is not caused by tooth decay. Abfraction lesions are small notches where tooth structure has been lost along the gum line. These notches may be angular or rounded, as seen in cases of older abfraction lesions. If left untreated, abfraction lesions can lead to serious dental problems, like tooth decay. Restorative dentistry treatments are effective at addressing the damage of dental abfractions to restore oral health and dental appearance. To discover your treatment options for dental abfractions, schedule a consultation with Bismarck, ND dentists Everett E. Heringer and Brielle Renz.

What Causes Dental Abfractions?

As noted above, dental abfractions are not caused by tooth decay. Instead, mechanical forces and stress applied to the teeth can lead to the wearing away of the tooth's structure along the gum line, where the enamel stops and the cementum layer of the teeth begins, a naturally vulnerable area of the teeth. In most cases, the stresses from normal biting and chewing don't cause dental abfractions. More often, abfraction lesions occur as a result of an abnormal bite, called malocclusion, or excessive stress from teeth grinding or clenching.

The Dangers of Dental Abfractions

Once abfraction lesions develop, they will not heal themselves and will require dental intervention. Dental abfractions are dangerous to oral health, interrupting the protective layer of the teeth and putting them at risk of increased tooth sensitivity and decay. If tooth decay occurs, the teeth will be at increased risk of dental damage, including painful root canal infections and tooth loss.

Treatments for Dental Abfractions

Treating dental abfractions begins with determining their underlying cause with a thorough dental examination. Once the cause is determined, a treatment plan can be created to prevent further abfraction damage and restore dental health. Some treatments may include:

  • Teeth grinding treatment: If chronic teeth grinding or clenching, also called bruxism, is the underlying cause of abfraction lesions, teeth grinding will need to be treated. When worn while sleeping, custom-made bite guards or occlusal splints can help protect the teeth from the forces of teeth grinding, preventing further abfraction damage.
  • Orthodontics: Dental abfractions caused by malocclusion, or a bad bite, can be addressed with orthodontic treatment. Orthodontics, including traditional metal braces and discreet Invisalign® treatment, help evenly redistribute bite forces, reducing the risk of dental abfractions. 
  • Tooth-colored fillings: In addition to treating the underlying cause of abfraction, lesions can be treated with tooth-colored fillings. Tooth-colored fillings are made a malleable resin that is directly applied and shaped on the tooth. Tooth-colored fillings effectively restore missing dental structure to improve dental health and appearance.

Seek Treatment for Abfraction Damage and Restore Oral Health

If you suspect you suffer from abfraction, it's important to seek dental treatment as soon as possible to avoid further dental damage. To enjoy restored oral health and to find out which treatments are right for you, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Heringer and Renz.

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