An abfraction is a specific type of damage to the tooth. If you notice that your teeth look longer or appear indented around the gum line, you could be seeing an abfraction. Abfractions may not have any symptoms, or they may cause sensitive teeth.
Although this type of tooth damage may not require treatment, the problem can get worse if the underlying cause isn’t addressed. Here’s what you need to know about abfractions and how they can impact your smile.
Signs of an Abfraction
Abfractions happen because the tooth structure begins to wear down at the base of the tooth. Think about where your teeth meet your gums. If you have an indentation or gap where the gum tissue has receded and the tooth appears longer, you may be seeing an abfraction.
Food may become stuck in these areas, and they can be challenging to clean, which can increase your risk of cavities and gum disease and lead to further deterioration of the tooth structure. Some people also experience tooth sensitivity in the affected area.
If the abfraction lesions are located in noticeable areas when you smile, they can also affect your self-confidence and lead to an uneven or discolored appearance of the teeth.
Multiple factors can influence the development of an abfraction lesion. The most common
reasons an abfraction may form include:
- Teeth grinding. Teeth clenching and grinding put immense pressure on the teeth and
can cause the area around the gumline to be affected.
- Malocclusion. Misaligned teeth or bites, also called malocclusions, can cause unusual
wear to the teeth and lead to abfraction lesions.
- Aggressive brushing. Brushing your teeth too hard, or brushing with a stiff-bristled
toothbrush, can cause the enamel and gum tissue to wear away at the base of the
- Untreated gum disease. Periodontal disease can cause the gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, resulting in gapped or indented areas near the base of the tooth.
Some people have more than one of these factors that cause abfractions. It’s imperative to keep your regular dental visits to avoid abfractions and treat ones that have already developed.
Treatment for abfractions will depend on what has caused them in the first place. For example, for patients with misaligned teeth, orthodontics can help correct the misalignment causing undue pressure on the affected teeth.
Addressing gum disease or teeth grinding can also help prevent abfractions from getting worse and allow for more effective treatment of the existing lesions. Patients who use a stiff bristled toothbrush or brush their teeth aggressively can benefit from switching to a soft-bristled, electric toothbrush.
Not every abfraction will need treatment, as some abfractions may simply need to be monitored. Your dentist can review your treatment options with you should you have an abfraction based on your symptoms and the severity of the lesions.
Don’t Ignore Tooth Damage
Any damage to your teeth should always be addressed by your dentist. If you’re noticing signs or symptoms of an abfraction, don’t wait to make an appointment to see what the problem could be and start treating your smile!