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Carson, CA 90745

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Omid Barkhordar, DDS


Abrasion Lesions: Their Cause, Symptoms, and Remedies

The deterioration of teeth can occur from a variety of causes. Caries (tooth decay) is probably the most well known reason, but there are other ways teeth can become damaged.

Abrasion lesions cause an abnormal loss of tooth surface resulting from some element coming in contact with the tooth surface. They are indentations occurring at the neck of the tooth.

Examples of causes of abrasion lesions include:

  1. Toothbrush bristles that are too hard
  2. Brushing with too much force
  3. Toothpicks or floss used incorrectly
  4. Holding pins, pens or pencils between clenched teeth
  5. Ingesting acidic foods or beverages regularly
  6. Forceful chewing
  7. The metal components of lip piercings rubbing against teeth.

Lesions can also result from iatrogenic causes, meaning that some sort of treatment caused the condition. For example, abrasion lesions can be due to ill-fitting clasps on restorations or dentures that constantly rub against a tooth’s surface, or even porcelain teeth making constant contact against a natural tooth.

What Are the Signs of Abrasion?

Most commonly, abrasion lesions appear as a v-shaped groove at the neck of the tooth, or where it meets the gum line. The edges of the lesion are at an angle from the rest of the tooth surface.

The soft dentin of the tooth is easily worn by aggressive brushing or by contact with other elements. If the lesion is more pronounced, it can go deeper into the tooth pulp or come in contact with the nerve. The v-shaped lesion can produce pain when it is probed or otherwise touched.

Abrasion lesions can also have a surface that appears smooth and polished, due to the fact that the area usually does not have plaque accumulation or caries.

How To Prevent Abrasion Lesions

If bad habits are the cause of lesions, then identifying and eliminating them will help prevent them. These include:

  1. Reducing or eliminating acidic foods and beverages
  2. Correctly using floss or toothpicks
  3. Brushing with gentle strokes and using a soft bristle brush

Treating Abrasion Lesions

Treatment depends on what is causing the lesions. If the cause is poor brushing, nutrition, chewing tobacco, or pipe smoking, then the first step is to change those behaviors. If the cause is iatrogenic, repairing or changing what’s causing the problem would be recommended.

If the lesions are minor, we might simply recommend a fluoride gel or a mouth rinse containing xylitol to be used at home, which will help protect the area from decay. If you use a more abrasive toothpaste, such as one that whitens teeth, it could make the lesions worse.

If, however, the lesion does contain a carie, is sensitive, is very close to the tooth pulp, or you seek to eliminate an unaesthetic area of your smile, a restoration or procedure may be necessary.

A restoration would consist of bonding a tooth-colored material to the V-shape notch to even it out. We use composites and glass ionomers, otherwise known as plastic fillings. A fluoride varnish would be applied as a finish.

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