As we age, our teeth can wear down, becoming shorter. As this occurs, your face will change shape, becoming shorter, too, which can give you a more squat appearance, lead to facial folds, wrinkles, and jowls. A nonsurgical facelift can restore your teeth to their former proportions and give you a more youthful appearance, but what causes them to wear down in the first place?

There are actually three main types of wear that affect your teeth: attrition, abrasion, and erosion.

Tooth-to-Tooth Wear: Attrition

When we are chewing (or clenching our teeth, such as during bruxism), our teeth make contact with one another, which can lead to wear. Because your teeth are very hard (and designed to wear down food), this is the primary cause of tooth wear. Some people will tell you that all-ceramic restorations lead to increased wear on opposing teeth, but evidence is mixed, and it seems that they actually cause about the same amount of wear as natural tooth material.

It’s also possible that TMJ, like bruxism, may lead to increased tooth wear.

Tooth Wear by Abrasion

Another cause of tooth wear is abrasion–when tooth material is worn away by other materials in the mouth.

For many of us, the worst cause is actually improper oral hygiene–either brushing too often, using too abrasive a toothpaste, or brushing too hard.

Food can also lead to abrasion of your teeth. Hard fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (especially corn meal and popcorn) lead to more abrasion.

You can also increase abrasion if you chew on things other than food, such as your nails or pens and pencils, or use your teeth as tools.

Tooth Wear by Erosion or Corrosion

An increasing source of tooth damage is erosion or corrosion–when your teeth are attacked by acids. This is the cause of cavities–your teeth are attacked by acid secreted by bacteria in your mouth. But erosion is also caused by drinking soda, eating acidic foods, and even acid released into the mouth by GERD.

Erosion is different from other types of tooth wear in that it affects all surfaces of your teeth evenly, which means that not just the tops of your teeth are wearing down, but the enamel is thinning in all directions. When this occurs, your teeth can become discolored as the enamel thins and the darker-colored dentin below begins to show through. This kind of discoloration doesn’t respond to teeth whitening, but can be corrected with porcelain veneers.

Restoring Your Smile and Your Face

If you have suffered damage to your teeth and have noticed that it’s affecting your smile and making you look older, we can help. With either a nonsurgical facelift or a smile makeover, we can help you achieve younger and healthier-looking teeth.

To learn more about cosmetic dentistry in the Hilton Head area, please call (843) 706-2999 for an appointment at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.