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What Is Abfraction?

By Dr. Silvers on July 30, 2016


An illustration of a healthy tooth and a tooth with abfractionMost people are aware that tooth decay and acid exposure can cause tooth erosion, but few know that tooth erosion can also be caused by the force of the teeth moving against each other. This type erosion is called abfraction. A dental abfraction is a serious dental issue that can increase the risk of tooth decay and tooth loss if left untreated. Restorative dentistry treatments are highly effective at addressing dental damage to improve your oral health. To find out if you're a candidate for abfraction treatment, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Harrisburg, PA dentist Warren D. Silvers, III.

What Is Abfraction?

Abfraction can be considered a form of tooth erosion. However, it is not related to tooth decay. Abfraction is a gradual loss of tooth structure near the gum line. Abfraction causes small lesions, or notches, to form on the teeth. These notches will not heal themselves and, if left untreated, can lead to further dental damage.

What Causes Abfraction?

Although abfraction is a form of tooth erosion, it is not caused by tooth decay. Instead, abfraction is caused by mechanical, physical forces on the teeth. In most cases, these forces are excessive, often caused by chronic teeth clenching, teeth grinding, or a misaligned bite. These conditions subject the teeth to increased strain and uneven pressure. As a result, the teeth may weaken near the gum line, where the enamel and cementum meet. This area is particularly vulnerable, and increased strain or forces can cause the enamel to dissolve over time, allowing the formation of abfraction lesions.   

Treatments for Abfraction

Once abfraction lesions develop, they will not heal themselves and require dental intervention. Abfraction notches cause an interruption in the tooth's enamel, making damaged teeth vulnerable to tooth decay. If left untreated, abfraction lesions can lead to tooth decay, root canal infections, and tooth loss. Treating abfraction as early as possible is essential for protecting your oral health. Fortunately, there are treatment options for restoring dental damage caused by abfraction, including:

  • Teeth grinding treatment: If abfraction is caused by teeth grinding or clenching, teeth grinding must be treated in order to prevent further damage from abfraction. Teeth grinding and clenching can be treated with night bite guards or occlusal splints.
  • Orthodontics: If abfraction is caused by a misaligned bite, or malocclusion, the bite issues may be corrected to reduce the risk of abfraction. Malocclusion may be treated with traditional orthodontics or modern discreet options, like Invisalign® orthodontics treatment.
  • Tooth-colored fillings: Abfraction lesions may be repaired with tooth-colored fillings. Tooth fillings are made of composite resin and custom matched to the surrounding shade of each tooth to create a flawless, unnoticeable finish.

Learn More about Abfraction Treatment

Dental abfractions can leave the teeth vulnerable to decay and other damage. Seeking treatment for dental abfractions as early as possible can help protect your smile for many years to come. For more information about dental abfractions, or to find out which treatments are right for you needs, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Silvers.

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