Abfraction is a form of loss of tooth tissue that happens along the gum line or the gingival margin. Unlike many other dental conditions, this doesn’t occur due to bacteria, decay, or infection.
The term was coined by noted dentist Dr. John O. Grippo in his journal article “Abfractions: A New Classification of Hard Tissue Lesions of Teeth,” which was published in 1991. The article established abfraction as a pathologic loss of hard tissue tooth and a new type of lesion that’s different from teeth erosion, attrition, and abrasion.
This blog post discusses everything you need to know about abfraction in detail, including the symptoms, causes, treatments, and prevention. Read on to know more.
Symptoms of abfraction
Abfraction usually occurs at the cementoenamel junction, the region that experiences the highest amount of tensile stress thereby causing loss of tooth tissues and micro fractures. The very first symptoms of abfraction are:
- Feel the wedge
Abfraction is a slow and painless process. In the initial stages, even though there are no physical signs or sensations, one can feel the wedge with their tongue or feel food sticking to the wedge.
- Tooth Sensitivity
The second sign is tooth sensitivity, which happens gradually. As the nerves get more exposed, the sensitivity increases.
- Chipped tooth surface
The next prominent sign of abfraction is a chipped tooth surface near the gingival margin or the cementoenamel junction.
- Exposed dentin or enamel loss
This is the next symptom, which exposes the dentin and even causes enamel loss. In this stage, the pain and sensitivity increase and become extremely noticeable.
Causes of Abfraction
Abfraction is caused by various biological, chemical, and behavioral factors. Let’s take a look at each of them.
- Lingering stress on teeth
One of the leading causes of abfraction is the sustained forces on teeth. As the lingering stress increases with age, it can worsen the complication. As per a study published in PubMed Central, the occurrence of abfraction rises with age, increasing from three percent to 17 percent between the age of 20 and 70.
- Bruxism and malocclusion
Apart from the long-term forces and stress, it also happens due to bruxism or teeth grinding, malocclusion or misalignment of teeth, and loss of minerals due to abrasive or acidic factors.
- Abrasions and erosion
These are also among the major causes of dental abfraction lesions. Tooth erosion is mainly caused by acid exposure such as excessive acidic foods and beverages or acid reflux. Tooth abrasion also worsens abfractions.
- Poor quality toothpaste and improper brushing technique
The use of low-quality toothpaste as well as improper brushing technique can cause abfractions.
How to prevent abfractions?
Abfractions can be prevented with some simple steps. At TruCare Dentistry, we focus on preventive measures, and here are some of our top picks to prevent abfraction.
- Choose excellent quality toothpaste
As discussed above, abfractions can be caused by using poor-quality toothpaste. The best way to avoid the risk is to use high-quality toothpaste with adequate fluoride content.
- Ensure proper brushing technique
When it comes to dental hygiene, the technique is as important as consistency. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, angle it 45 degrees, and use small circular motions to brush your teeth.
- Use a night guard
Bruxism is one of the major causes of abfraction. If you have the habit of nighttime teeth grinding, use a night guard to protect your teeth from enormous pressure.
- Use orthodontic devices as prescribed
Many people don’t use their orthodontics as prescribed, which causes a lot of problems. If you have been recommended to use an orthodontic device such as braces or aligners, use it as recommended. The proper use of dental devices will reduce the pressure and stress on affected tooth or teeth and prevent further dental complications.
- Schedule regular dental checkups
By going for regular dental checkups, you minimize the chances of developing abfraction. A professional dentist can detect any anomalies along the gingival margin, or gum line, and recommend the necessary measures at the earliest.
Treatments for abfraction
Treating abfraction is extremely difficult for many reasons. Even though abfraction cannot be reversed, you can stop further damage with the following measures.
Fillings are useful to fill the lesion and reduce sensitivity. In this stage, a dental professional will use tooth-colored fillings to cover up the lesion and nerves.
If the abfraction lesion is less than one millimeter, then surgery can be recommended. In that, a dentist uses a No.12 scalpel and makes a tiny indentation on the abfraction. After that, they monitor the changes closely. If there’s no scratch mark, it means that the abfraction is progressing.
- Adjustments to the teeth’s biting surfaces
In some cases, if proper adjustments are made to the teeth’s biting surfaces then it can reduce the stress and pressure on teeth and can stop the dental abfraction lesions from worsening.
Overall, it may be said
Unlike many other dental conditions, abfraction doesn’t occur due to bacteria, decay, or infection but because of the loss of tooth tissue along the gum line or the gingival margin. By taking good care of your teeth and scheduling regular dental checkups, you can minimize the chance of developing abfraction considerably. If you’re looking for a trustworthy dentist in Roswell, GA, or neighboring areas such as Alpharetta, Dunwoody, Marietta, Milton, Sandy Springs, or Woodstock, contact us to book an appointment. To know about our services, visit our service page.