The Long & Short Of It - (If Only I Was A Beaver)
Q: Dr. Crapo: Yesterday I saw my dentist. He remarked that my lower front teeth looked quite a bit shorter than when he’d seen me over a year ago. I told him I’d been noticing that as well. We went over the stressful job I’m in and my increasing headaches. I asked him if he could just add to the edges of my lower teeth to give back what I’m missing. After examining my bite, he said it was impossible because the lower edges were touching my upper front teeth when my bite was closed. I asked him how that could be. Obviously my teeth were worn and obviously they’d been longer at one time because they weren’t worn then. He explained to me that as teeth wear, they actually grow into the space created when the tooth structure is destroyed.He said, in human beings the socket that the root is anchored in moves with the tooth and that this can happen throughout life, whereas rodents grow tooth structure throughout their life. He said a tooth has a constant force to grow until it touches it’s opposite. If the opposite is gone, it can grow right to the gum of the lost tooth (socket included). He said he didn’t know if anything could be done. He said he’d refer me to a dental specialist.
I then asked, what happens if I do nothing? More tooth gone, he said and a more noticeable ground down look in my smile. I’ve got a lot of years in the public place, so that can’t happen. He said I had a pretty good bite but it would continue to self-destruct. Where do I go from here?
A: When your dentist doesn’t have all the answers, seeing a dental specialist is a good answer – at least a consultation between the two doctors helps to clarify the problem and develop a plan of attack that makes sense to the three of you.
Wear like this occurs when teeth are forced into an arrangement where the edges are overworked through grinding; enamel is lost and the dentin underneath is exposed. At this point, wear occurs at a faster rate.
Good impression records and analysis on a bite simulator will demonstrate how this is occurring and provide an opportunity to formulate a solution. It’s good to catch it now.
Definitive treatment or correcting what has been lost will probably include crowning the lower teeth and their opposing opposites.
This is not an inexpensive proposition. If you must delay treatment, a good bite splint (night guard) can be made to reduce the wear and tear until definitive treatment is possible. As a side benefit, your headaches will probably disappear.
You can always count on Dr. C Ross Crapo & Associates with a team of dentists in Victoria for protecting your oral health. We specialize in family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, implant dentistry and restorative dentistry.
Based on actual patient cases
Calvin Ross Crapo