It may seem logical that the harder you brush your teeth, the cleaner they'll be. But applying too much pressure can actually weaken the outer layers of the tooth structure. This condition, called dental abrasion, can occur when any foreign object causes friction against your teeth and gradually wears away the enamel on the surface.
If you've noticed the signs of dental abrasion, small v-shaped notches near the gums, it may be time to review your oral hygiene regimen with your dentist or dental hygienist. Don't worry, you won't need to retire your toothbrush altogether.
Your dentist or dental hygienist can suggest proper techniques to restore and protect a healthy smile.
Cause and Effect
Strenuous brushing is the most common culprit, but any object that repeatedly rubs against your teeth can wear them down. Using toothpicks improperly can contribute to dental abrasion, as well chewing on fingernails, pencils or other objects.
In some cases, ill-fitting retainers or partial dentures can also be to blame. Believe it or not, the type of toothpaste you use may even be a factor as some formulas are more abrasive than others.
While protecting the appearance of your teeth may be the most obvious reason to prevent and treat dental abrasion, weakened enamel can also contribute to more serious dental problems over time. Many patients experience increased tooth sensitivity to heat and cold. In addition, without its protective outer layer, a tooth may be more susceptible to infection. In advanced cases, when dental abrasion is left undiagnosed and/or untreated, a tooth may need a tooth filling or tooth extraction.