Q: Do Teeth Wear with Age?

By Dr. Cheryl Bresnahan

All teeth will wear over time.  At Dental Perfections, our goal is to provide you helpful hints and solutions when we see the teeth wearing down faster than normal.

The enamel on your teeth is the hardest substance in your body. It is even harder than bone.  Once the enamel is lost, you cannot get it back, despite claims by toothpaste manufacturers. It is more expensive to try to replace enamel than to prevent it from wearing down.

The five major causes of accelerated tooth wear are:

Wear can occur on different areas of your teeth that indicate the probable cause of premature tooth breakdown.  If the wear is located on the top edges of your front teeth and some of your teeth have sharp edges, the most likely cause is grinding your teeth when you sleep.  If you have this type of wear, your fillings will not last as long because they will be subjected to a tremendous force, the corners of the teeth break off which will necessitate more major dentistry, or the teeth can fracture beyond saving.

If the wear is located in the inside surfaces of your top teeth and the chewing surfaces of your bottom teeth, it is primarily caused from GERD or bulimia. 

If the wear is located along the gum line, the primary cause is from the grit in toothpaste. To prevent further wear, choose a toothpaste that has lower abrasives in it like Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Toothpaste, Sensodyne or Prevident and limit the amount of toothpaste to no larger than a pea size and make sure there is some water in your mouth to dilute the abrasives in the toothpaste.

If you see accelerated wear on your teeth, please bring it to our attention upon your next visit, and we will be happy to evaluate it and offer solutions to prevent it and possibly replace lost tooth structure depending on the severity of the wear present.

Dr. Cheryl Bresnahan is a licensed dentist and the founder of Dental Perfections in Whitewater, WI. If you'd like to ask her a question, please visit the Ask Dr. Cheryl section of our Web site.