Occlusal disease is a relatively new term that the dental profession uses to describe wearing down of teeth that is outside of the wear that occurs with normal use. Teeth may appear shorter or edges may get thin and then chip or break. Your tooth enamel can also wear away and cause your teeth to look duller or more dark.
Wear can occur because of bruxism, a collective term that we use to cover both clenching and grinding of your teeth. The addition of an abrasive substance such as sand (for those who do sandblasting for a living) can wear your teeth down more quickly.
Your diet can also be at fault. Certain acids in foods and drinks help wear away the surface of your tooth enamel which creates tiny crevices that can trap stains and can cause your teeth to appear dull.
Acid Reflux, GERD, or any condition with frequent vomiting can also allow acids into your mouth that can wear away your tooth enamel. Your tooth will look more dull because of this. Thinner enamel also allows more of the color of your dentin (the layer of the tooth that’s between your tooth nerve and your enamel) to show through, making your tooth look darker or yellower.
If you do have occlusal disease, it is important to find out what is causing it. You may need to treat the cause before treating the effects in your mouth. If you don’t, you will continue to have problems. If your dentist suspects a condition such as acid reflux or GERD, you may need a physician to prescribe medications to reduce this condition.
For bruxism, the treatment is often a removable appliance that you can wear while sleeping and at other times when you are likely to clench or grind your teeth. Tooth colored fillings or lab made crowns or veneers can restore some lost tooth structure as well as making your teeth look better again.
You can find more information about many of the issues discussed here in the patient education section of my website www.drjrobb.com Dr. Robb is also happy to discuss this issue with her patients at their dental visits.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist with an office at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd. Lorain, OH 44053. Appointments are available by calling 440-960-1940.