Why are your teeth wearing off?

man-with-teeth-wearing-off-due to-teeth-biting

Written by Dr. Krupa Patil

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated May 2, 2024

Written by Dr. Krupa Patil

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated May 2, 2024

Tooth enamel, the outer covering of the teeth is the hardest structure in the body, even harder than the bone. It is meant to withstand all kinds of chewing forces. Wearing of teeth is a normal physiological process that is irreversible. Though it is an aging phenomena, certain habits may cause wearing of teeth to occur in early stages of life.

We can take the example of the soles of our shoes. The soles of the shoes get worn off, if worn for a longer duration and also depends on the frequency of use. Rough use of the shoes will cause the soles to get worn off more easily and fast.

Depending on the way you walk, your shoes are worn on one side than the other and other factors also play an important role in the wearing-off soles. The same applies to the teeth, when teeth rub over the remaining teeth, they wear off over a period of time. Wearing of teeth can be of different types. Basically, they are- Attrition, abrasion, and erosion.


Where are you going wrong?

Using the wrong brushing technique, using a hard-bristled toothbrush, aggressive and furious brushing, and using the wrong angle to brush your teeth can cause abrasion of the teeth.

Frequent use of acidic juices and aerated drinks can cause the outer enamel layer of the teeth to dissolve and wear off. Tooth erosion is somewhat a similar process to soil erosion. The wearing-off the enamel layer exposes the inner dentin layer of the tooth. This causes problems like teeth sensitivity in the future.

Attrition of teeth

Attrition of teeth is when the individual rubs a tooth over the other tooth. The rubbing of the teeth causes friction between the two upper and lower teeth and the habitual grinding action causes wearing off the teeth eventually. Grinding and clenching of teeth are often a stress-related condition.

It can happen subconsciously too, like thinking about something or while heavy concentration. Habits like nail biting object chewing, pencil or pen chewing can also cause attrition of teeth. Clenching and grinding act like a coping mechanism for many to overcome their stress. This also gives a feeling of relaxation to some. But these habits have adverse effects on our teeth.

Attrition is a type of irreversible physiological process meaning it’s a normal ageing process and once the teeth are worn off there nothing that can help it to repair naturally. The rubbing action of the teeth against each other make the teeth appear short and pointed. Attrition basically wears down the outer covering of the teeth that is the enamel and this may lead to problems such as dentin hypersensitivity to hot and cold stuff. Severe attrition can even affect your facial appearance making you look older than your age, early wrinkles and reduce the facial height.

Clenching and grinding of teeth

A number of factors contribute to the clenching and grinding of teeth. The main reasons are stress, anxiety or grinding of teeth may also be caused due to abnormal positions of the jaw. Bruxism is the habitual grinding of the teeth that occurs mostly due to the movement of the lower jaw. It can occur during the day or at night. Both clenching and grinding of the teeth are a sign of aggression and anger.

Night-time teeth grinding (nocturnal bruxism) may also be associated with audible sound when clenching or grinding the teeth. The abnormal jaw can result in wearing off the teeth on one side, thereby causing problems to the temporomandibular joint (jaw joint which opens and closes your mouth).

On the other hand, if an individual works in an industry that has dust and grit, then there are high chances that the teeth may wear over time due to the exposure. For example, people working out in the gyms are more prone to clenching and grinding their teeth while heavy lifting.

People with genetically thinner enamel have a higher tendency towards wearing off teeth. Bruxism makes the gums sore and tender. Also, one can notice a change in color of the teeth( yellowish teeth), this is caused due to the exposure of the underlining layer named dentin.


How can I stop this from happening?

Depending on the severity of the tooth loss one can intervene the wearing of teeth. First and foremost is breaking the habit. Your dentist will help you get rid of these habits by fabricating a custom-made habit-breaking appliances for you to use.

When attrition costs your facial appearance and dental health, there are a variety of cosmetic dental restorations to help bring back your beautiful smile. You could opt for cosmetic dental procedures and smile designing treatments like dental veneers, laminates and dental bonding to restore the imperfections caused by tooth attrition, abrasion, or erosion.

If used in conjunction with preventive measures, they can be remarkably effective. In severe cases of attrition the teeth have become flat to an extent where they start causing severe dental problems. In such cases your dentist may suggest you for a full mouth reconstruction. Customized night-guards or splints if you are habitually grinding your teeth at night (nocturnal bruxism). These dental appliances guard your teeth and act as a shield to protect your teeth from rubbing against each other.

Wear night guards or sports guards while working out in the gyms or if you are a sports enthusiast. Nightguards and orthodontic appliances keep the tissues slightly separated which can help you relieve the pressure on the jaw joint caused due to teeth grinding and clenching. This also helps relax the oral muscles.

The bottom line

An improved understanding of the factors associated with wearing off the teeth may lead to more effective interventions. The awareness of wearing of teeth is very less among the general population. Wearing-off the teeth is multifactorial and different people may have different reasons for wearing of their teeth. Dental problems like teeth sensitivity, jaw joint problems and click sounds while opening and closing the mouth, tooth decay are experienced by all. So it is very important to find out the actual cause of your teeth wearing down and preventing it from happening.


  • The main reason for wearing of teeth is stress. Other causes are habitual grinding, clenching, anxiety or abnormal jaw positions and wrong chewing habits.
  • Teeth clenching and grinding can cost you complete loss of teeth.
  • Early intervention can be of utmost importance to avoid the severe loss of teeth.
  • Occlusal splints, night-guards, orthodontic appliances can help you relax your oral muscles and prevent clenching and grinding of teeth.
  • Finding out the reason for your teeth wearing off is very important and more important is getting it treated.
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Author Bio: Krupa Patil is currently working as an intern in School of Dental Sciences, KIMSDU, Karad. She has been nominated for the Pierre Fauchard Award from School of Dental Sciences. She has one article published in a journal which is PubMed indexed and currently working on one patent and two design patents. 4 copyrights are also present under name. She has a hobby of reading, writing about different aspects of dentistry and is a vivid traveler. She continuously seeks out training and professional development opportunities that allow her to remain aware and knowledgeable about new dental practices and latest technology is being considered or used.

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