Although abfractions are fairly common occurrences in adult teeth, it may be that you have never heard the term because these V-shaped notches that occur along the gum line often cause no pain and require no treatment.
Abfractions are technically known as abfraction lesions, and are thought to be caused by forces that “stress” the teeth, including biting, chewing, unconscious grinding, and clenching. These actions, repeated over time, can cause splits and cracks in the enamel, usually in the thinnest areas which are along the gums. This “wearing away” of the outer tooth surface can be attributed to flexure and biochemical degradation, but is not similar to dental caries, the bacterial mechanism that causes cavities.
What’s the Risk?
Occasionally, an abfraction can be deep enough to penetrate into the layer below the hard outer enamel, known as the dentin, but it is extremely rare for the tooth pulp to be affected. There might be some sensitivity to heat or cold, but that is rare as well.
Usually, an abfraction lesion poses no risk to a tooth, and dentists are unlikely to recommend treatment of any kind. If you notice the telltale crescent or V-shaped wedges between checkups, you do not have to call your dentist unless you feel pain. They won’t “heal,” and they may not worsen or become larger over time. In severe cases, or if you are disturbed by the look of abfraction lesions, they can be filled with a cosmetic compound so they are not visible.
Abfractions Can Cause a Tooth to Break
Abfractions, however, can cause a healthy tooth to lose some of its strength and, in rare cases, may cause a tooth to break. In those situations, it may be wise to reinforce the tooth with a filling compound. This can be done easily, and often does not require any drilling.
Not Sure? Do Not Hesitate to Call Your Houston Endodontist
If you have any questions about abfraction lesions, do not hesitate to consult with your dental professional of choice. If you have other kinds of dental problems, or if you are facing more extensive dental procedures that involve damaged pulp and root canals, we at Gulf Coast Endodontics are your Houston area specialists, and our caring staff is available to explain all the procedures to you.
We have four Houston endodontist locations to serve you, in Houston, Pasadena, Cypress and Baytown, and we handle emergencies as well as scheduled appointments. Please give us a call so we can help you “get to the root” of your problem.