Abfractions

Definition of Abfractions:

An abfraction is a mechanical loss of tooth structure that is not caused by tooth decay. It is is an angular notch located along the gum line and is a form of non-carious tooth tissue loss that occurs along the gumline. Abfractions that have been present for awhile may become rounded through the abrasive action of a toothbrush, especially if the teeth are continually exposed to an acidic environment (from drinking energy or sport drinks for example), which is known to soften tooth structure.

An abrasion, which is similar, is a rounded notch at the gumline that may be barely indistinguishable from an abfraction to the untrained eye, but are not as angular. It is believed that heavy toothbrushing forces applied to exposed tooth roots reduce the surface over time to produce the rounded notch.

Causes of Abfractions:

While not completely understood, abfractions are caused by:

  • Clenching or grinding the teeth (bruxing)
  • Normal forces on teeth which are improperly aligned (malocclusion)
  • Acidic erosion

Risks of Abfractions:

  • When the tooth structure is exposed to sugars, acids, and abrasion of normal diet and function.
  • Increased sensitivity to temperature and sweets due to the exposure of the tooth structure
  • As the wear continues, the tooth becomes more at risk for fracture

Dental Abfractions Treatment:

Once we determine the cause of the abfraction, we will choose the most appropriate treatment. The best treatment for abfractions is diagnosis and prevention. Ruling out abfractions can save the patient time, money and unnecessary treatment. However, misdiagnosing an abfraction as an abrasion can prevent a patient from receiving needed care, and cause treatment of the abfraction to be unsuccessful.

 

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