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All You Need to Know About Abfraction — Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Abfraction is a modern problem that may affect your teeth. It appears on the part of the tooth closest to the gums, and it can cause permanent tooth damage. If you suspect that you’re suffering from abfraction, make sure to go for a dental check up at a dentist in woodbridge.

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What Is Abfraction, and Is There a Way to Treat It?

Tooth abfraction is one of the lesser-known oral health problems. If untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the tooth, and dental fillings might become necessary. Here, we will go through all you need to know about tooth abfraction, what it entails, and how you can avoid it. 

What Is Abfraction and What Causes It?

Abfraction is a term used to describe the loss of tooth substance, which causes small lesions or notches near the gum line. In the majority of cases, these notches are angular. But, it is not rare to see them become rounded over time. The most important thing to mention is that these are non-carious cervical lesions or NCCL. This means that tooth decay has nothing to do with them. 

One of the main issues with abfraction is that there aren’t many studies on the subject. The first recorded appearance of this condition was in 1991, and it has been a subject of controversy ever since. Furthermore, the reason why the topic is so controversial is that it bears similarities with other non-carious lesions.

What causes abfraction? We already mentioned that abfraction is a non-carious problem, which means that it is not related to tooth decay. Many people suggest that the loss of tooth structure is the result of force we place on our teeth. That can include biting, chewing, eating, and teeth grinding. When we do these things, the part of the tooth called the cementoenamel junction is under a lot of stress. That is the point when micro fractures will appear. 

The most recent theory is that abfraction is a modern problem since other recorded types of non-carious lesions throughout history are caused by other factors. It is worth mentioning that some researchers claim that brushing technique is the primary cause of dental abfractions, but this counts as abrasion. 

How Do You Recognize Abfraction?

Probably the most important thing you will want to know is how to recognize signs of abfraction. In order to act on time, you need to know what the signs of this problem are, so let’s start from the beginning. 

Abfraction lesions will appear on the part of the tooth close to gums. Now, the main issue here is that there aren’t enough studies to support any of the theories. Some scientists claim that abfraction lesions will appear only above the CEJ (cementoenamel junction). Others, on the other hand, support the theory that it can occur anywhere on the cervical area. 

Generally speaking, there are three types of abfraction lesions you might notice. The first one looks like a wedge, the second has the shape of a saucer, and the third is a mixture of the first two. The last option is the least common, and it will often appear in the oral cavity. 

When it comes to additional problems, a person suffering from this type of lesion might also experience tooth sensitivity and even permanent tooth damage. Furthermore, since the inner structure of the tooth will be exposed, it will leave it open to tooth decay if left untreated. 

Is There a Way to Fix This Problem?

The short answer is yes. When it comes to abfraction treatment, the process depends on a couple of factors:

  • The severity of the problem
  • Cause of abfraction
  • Whether it requires other treatments

One of the first things to address is the cause of the problem. If a person has an issue with teeth grinding, that needs to be addressed first. There are many ways to prevent someone from grinding their teeth, and the most common solution is to get a mouthguard. 

When it comes to the treatment of the issue at hand, that is, the abfraction itself, it mostly depends on the severity of the damage on the structure of the tooth and whether there is additional tooth decay present. For example, if the problem has its roots in improper bite, resolving that can reduce the chances of later abfraction. The same thing can apply to tooth grinding since mouthguards can reduce the risk of damaged teeth. 

However, if we are talking about someone who already has symptoms of abfraction, then the only way to solve the issue is through restorative dentistry. This includes tooth fillings, cavity fillings, and similar procedures that will restore damaged areas of the tooth. Keep in mind that dental fillings are only necessary if there’s visible damage on the tooth surface. They are not a prevention method. 

One of the ways a clinician can monitor whether the lesion is progressing is by making a small indentation on the part of the tooth. If the mark disappears, that means that the lesion is progressing.

Differences Between Abfraction, Erosion, and Abrasion

Since there has been a lot of talk about these terms, we should discuss the difference between them so you can have a better idea of what each of them represents. 

We already mentioned that an abfraction is a V-shaped dint of sorts on the tooth, and we mentioned pressure as the main culprit behind it. It usually appears on the gum line, and it can lead to tooth loss. 

Abrasion, on the other hand, usually appears on teeth that are closest to the cheeks. Friction is the most common cause of abrasion, and it happens when teeth are in contact with a foreign object. These objects can be pencils, piercings, or a hard toothbrush combined with an improper brushing technique. It is also worth noting that abrasion doesn’t cause V-shaped lesions, and it is usually flat.

Finally, we have erosion, or general damage to the enamel. Over the years, teeth might become more rounded or transparent, and you might often notice chips and dents. Unlike the first two problems, erosion is a chemical process that happens on the surface of the tooth. Erosion is most commonly the result of high levels of acid in the saliva that arise thanks to acidic drinks, dry mouth, and other health issues. 

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