What causes wear of natural tooth enamel?

Natural tooth enamel is strong and durable. This is because the teeth are supposed to last a lifetime in the smile. The teeth need to be effective in eating food and breaking it down for proper digestion. However, there are times in which a dentist may notice unexpected wear of natural tooth enamel. Natural tooth enamel may be susceptible to damage if patients have coexisting conditions such as TMJ/TMD or bruxism. These conditions cause clenching and grinding of the teeth at night, and may result in tension of the jaw joint and muscles. This, in turn, can wear natural tooth enamel down to the point it may cause sensitivity and pain.

What causes the wear of natural tooth enamel?

Bruxism, TMJ, and TMD are the main culprits of tooth enamel wear. These conditions can leave the teeth stripped of its protective enamel to the point where sensitivity and pain occurs. The constant clenching and grinding can cause permanent damage to the natural teeth, while causing breakage and loosening of other dental restorations used in the smile, including:

  • Dental bridges
  • Dental crowns
  • Porcelain veneers
  • Composite resin bonding
  • Inlays and onlays
  • Dental fillings

When this occurs, patients may have unexpected, added costs to repair the damage. Dr. Keri Smith is committed to helping patients avoid costly dental work. As soon as patients notice wearing of their natural teeth, they should speak with a dental provider about their options for repair and protection.

How can I protect my teeth?

For many of our patients with bruxism and temporomandibular joint issues, the use of a night guard is often recommended. This is a special plastic oral appliance that patients wear when they sleep to offer a layer of protection between the upper and lower dental arch, which in turn reduces the risk of damage to the teeth or restorations in the mouth.

Are you experiencing unwanted wear and tear of your natural teeth?

You may be dealing with a condition that is impacting the smile such as bruxism or TMJ/TMD. Call Dr. Keri Smith of NW Heights Dental of Portland to learn more about these concerns. The practice is located in Portland, OR at 975 NW Salzman Road and can be reached at (503) 646-1463.

Posted in: Temporomandibular Joint Disorder


  • *All indicated fields must be completed.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.