- feature of unhealthy teeth
Molar WearMolar with moderate wear
Molar with extreme wear
Smooth Incisor WearIncisors with moderate smooth wear
Incisors with extreme smooth wear
Notched Incisor WearIncisors with moderate notched wear
Incisors with extreme notched wear
Canine WearCanines with moderate wear
Canines with extreme wear
Worn teeth are teeth that no longer have their original shape because they have been worn down. This can be slight or extreme:
There are several ways in which we can wear our teeth. Here are the most common (not listed in any particular order):
- A chewing pattern that brings teeth into contact in ways that cause wear
- Eating food that has gritty particles so that chewing the food wears down the teeth
- When your jaw is fully seated in its joint you close onto a premature contact between two teeth. This can be the start of different types of wear:
- This doesn't feel comfortable so you slide forward until you bring more teeth into contact and find a more comfortable position. At night you might do this repeatedly causing slopes of wear on the contacting teeth. (Very often grinding (bruxism) is performed while you are asleep – the case for most bruxing/grinding habits so we won't keep repeating this fact, but assume that it's the case whenever we mention grinding.)
- You don't like this premature contact so you attempt to get rid of it by grinding it away.
- When you slide forward to find a more comfortable position, you press your lower front teeth against the backs of the upper front teeth. Either in chewing or grinding you wear these teeth: fronts of the lower teeth and backs of the upper teeth.
- When you slide forward to find a more comfortable position, you end up with the edges of your front teeth together. You then start playing with this contact by moving the jaw from side to side, wearing down the front teeth. In this side-to-side motion it's likely your canines will also connect so they will experience wear. Because of the shapes of your jaw sockets the side-to-side wear is unlikely to be totally flat – you'll see different lines of wear on either side of the teeth.
You may also be surprised to see how far the side-to-side movement extends – demonstrated by seeing how the wear patterns of upper and lower teeth fit together with the jaw moved far over to the left or right (called cross-over wear because the lower teeth, which usually fit inside the upper teeth, cross beyond (outside) the upper teeth).
- Having worn down your front teeth, so that your anterior or canine guidance/protection no longer exists, continuing a side-to-side grinding motion will start to wear down the back teeth.
- There are other problems with your tooth geometry so your teeth don't fit together as they should. If the geometry allows movement with teeth in contact, you may grind those teeth in the (subconscious) hope that you can create a more comfortable bite.
What you should do about worn teeth:
Worn teeth are generally going to get worse so you should find a dentist who can explain why your teeth are wearing and recommend a remedy before the wear develops into even more serious problems.
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Possible developments of worn teeth:
- Tooth decay
- Sensitive teeth
- Root canal problems
- Cracked tooth
- Lack of anterior guidance
- Lack of canine guidance