Are your teeth ground down?

Do they look like this?

 

 

Well actually you have worn them down yourself.  The actual procession is likely a combination of attrition and erosion.
Attrition
is the wearing away of tooth structure from grinding the top and the
bottom together.  This condition, when excessive, is called bruxism.
Usually individuals with bruxism have at least heard their dentist
recommend a night guard.  All individuals with teeth like these are
doing most of the damage at night.  Many times a spouse will inform them
because the grinding makes an incredibly irritating noise.
Erosion
is the wearing away of tooth structure due to acid.  The major form we
see is from our own stomach acid being regurgitated.  This also happens
at night while we are laying down and the stomach acid can more easily
flow into our mouth.  Individuals with heartburn, especially at night,
are prone to this.  Most people have a combination of both bruxism and
stomach acid issues to get to the point of the photos above.  It does
not take very much acid regurgitation when you grind at night to damage
your teeth.  In fact the stomach acid may not cause any other symptoms
other than the wear of the teeth.  There also exists some individuals
that introduce the acid through their diet.  Mostly that would be
individuals that drink large amounts of juice or soda throughout the day
and individuals that suck on lemons, a popular habit in central
America.

So enough background what does it all mean? 
Well it is obviously less attractive.  It makes the individual appear
much older as we associate wearing away of teeth with old age.  It also
gives many people an unattractive gummy smile.  This occurs because as
the teeth are worn away your body compensates for that by pushing the
entire tooth, with it’s ligaments and gum tissue, up so as to stay
hitting the opposing tooth.  As the teeth are pushed up you start to
show more and more gum when you smile, instead of teeth.  Also it does
make it more difficult to chew and speak normally.  Although most people
do not really notice this too much because it is a slow process and
they adapt over the years.  Usually biting into things has become more
difficult and people sub-consciously tend to avoid certain foods, part
of the adaption.

So what can I do to restore my smile and all of it’s components to the ideal attractive smile I had in my youth?
Well fortunately this is one part of the body where we truly can turn
back the hand of time in a very non-invasive way.  There is almost
always 3 steps to return you to normal.  The first is getting the gums to go back to where they belong. 
This is done with either a minor surgery or with braces.  Occasionally,
if the gums are not too bad, everything can be done in just one step
and we can use our laser to make minor adjustments to the gums. The second step is to build back what was lost.  This is done with all ceramic crowns or veneers.  The final step is to protect your new smile.
If you didn’t where a night guard before you need to start.  Unless
your wear was primarily due to erosion then you ARE a bruxer.  You can
not grind away the ceramics like you did your teeth but you can break
them.  It is not easy to do and we are using newer stronger ceramics that are much stronger than older
ceramics, so it happens less and less.  However, even with the stronger ceramics like emax and zirconia it is only a question of when NOT if they will break if no protection is worn at night.

Below is a patient I completed recently.

This is Mike.  He was
sick of looking at his old worn down teeth and tired of not being able to chew
like he remembered he used to.

Over the years Mike had worn down his lower teeth to little
stubs.  They were no longer functioning
properly and did not look very good.
Together Mike and I were able to lengthen his teeth and restore him to
what he looked like as a young man.  Now
he is able to bite into his food again and his smile looks a lot better!
Before
After

 

Before biting
After biting.  Notice the gumline has also been restored to it’s normal position.

 

Before all the lower teeth

 

After all the lower teeth
Here is a gummy smile that was fixed.

 

Before
If you or someone you love is in a similar situation come in for a free consult and we discuss how together we can give you your
smile back!! 

Bryan Bauer, DDS, FAGD
630-665-5550

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