How do wear facets occur, and how to deal with them?

the different forms of tooth wear
Did you know that tooth decay is not the only thing that can damage our teeth?

There's also something called non-carious lesions, and one of the most common types is tooth wear. When teeth rub against each other too much, the enamel can break down and create flat, shiny, polished surfaces on our teeth - known as wear facets. These can come in different shapes and sizes depending on the cause, but they're all caused by excessive contact between teeth.

Keep reading to learn more about how wear facets occur and what you can do to deal with them.

Key takeaways:

  1. Tooth wear is a natural process that happens over time as we use our teeth for chewing and other oral functions.

  2. Wear facets are a type of non-carious lesion that occurs when teeth rub against each other too much, creating flat, shiny, polished surfaces on our teeth.

  3. There are different types of tooth wear, including attrition (caused by excessive contact between teeth during chewing or bruxism), erosion (caused by acidic attacks on teeth), abrasion (caused by external friction), and abfraction (caused by excessive stress on the tooth near the gum line).

  4. It is important to address wear facets early on, as they can progress and lead to tooth sensitivities, difficulty in oral functions, and alteration of facial features. Treatment options include removing the root cause, using a mouthguard, and restoring the damaged teeth with veneers, crowns, or fillings.

How do wear facets appear?

Our teeth wear out over time. It's a natural process that happens slowly as we use our teeth for chewing and other oral functions. But did you know that certain events can accelerate this process and cause wear lesions to appear?

One of the most common forms of tooth wear is called attrition. It results from excessive contact between the teeth during activities like chewing.

It can also happen outside these activities without your noticing if you grind or clench your teeth at night. This condition is called bruxism and can speed up this process.

Over time, this can slowly wear away the top layers of your teeth, resulting in smooth, shiny, worn facets.

wear facets due to attrition

How can wear facets progress?

If you don't address wear facets, they can progress until more than half of the tooth is worn down. This can lead to tooth sensitivities, causing sharp pain when you eat hot, cold, or sweet foods.

As wear facets progress, oral functions like chewing, swallowing, and speaking may become difficult due to tooth tissue loss. And if the front teeth are affected, your smile may also be impacted.

But that's not all - if the damage extends to the back teeth, it can even cause your lower facial height to decrease and alter your facial features.

Therefore, it is important to address wear facets early on, before they become a bigger problem.

Other forms of tooth wear

Besides wear facets caused by attrition, there are other forms of tooth wear that can occur and have the same smooth, shiny appearance. These types of wear are caused by teeth interacting with external factors like aggressive brushing, hard substances, or acidic food and beverages.

Unlike attrition, which occurs gradually over time, these types of wear can happen more suddenly and lead to significant damage if not addressed.

1. Erosion:

tooth erosion
It results from the loss of minerals that make up the tooth due to an acid attack.

What differentiates it is that it involves a chemical process. When the mouth acidity is too high, the teeth minerals start dissolving, leaving worn areas that may look like wear facets.

In erosion, in addition to the chewing surfaces, all sides of the tooth can be affected.


  • Acid reflux and repeated vomiting.
  • Acidic foods and drinks.
  • Low salivary production.
  • Taking certain acidic medications such as vitamin C or aspirin.

Treatment and prevention:

You can prevent tooth erosion by drinking plenty of water during the day and occasionally rinsing with baking soda to reduce the acidity in your mouth.
Also, choose a non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste and wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after a meal.

When erosion has reached the underlying teeth structures, veneers, crowns, or fillings may be considered to restore the function and appearance of the teeth.

wear facets due to erosion

Wear facets due to erosion

2. Abrasion:

tooth abrasive
In abrasion, the friction that causes wear comes from an external factor, like an abrasive material or a hard bristle toothbrush.

This repeated contact can break down the hard tissue of the tooth and cause visible damage.

Abrasion often affects the upper teeth, particularly the canines, and molars, and the damage is usually located near the gum line where the object interacts with the tooth.


  • Overusing toothpicks.
  • Aggressive brushing with a hard toothbrush and abrasive toothpaste.
  • Harmful habits such as biting the nails or cracking seeds or a hard object between the teeth.

Treatment and prevention:

To prevent this type of injury, you should first brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a non-abrasive toothpaste. The method of brushing also critical. Avoid applying too much pressure or using horizontal strokes, as they are more aggressive to your teeth and gums.
Treatment consists of removing the cause and restoring the lesions with fillings, crowns, or veneers.

3. Abfraction:

Abfraction is a type of wear that happens when the hard tissues of the tooth break down near the gum line due to excessive stress on its chewing surface.

When the tooth receives a lot of pressure, it flexes and bends slightly. This concentrates the stress near the gum line and causes the enamel and dentin to break down. Over time, small lesions appear and gradually spread deeper in a "V" shape.

The most common factors for abfraction are crowding and bruxism (grinding teeth).

Treatment of wear facets

The treatment of wear veneers depends on the extent of the damage and the teeth involved. It usually starts with removing the root cause. Once the risk factors are addressed, the damaged teeth can be restored. Treatment options include:

  • Mouthguard: It is a transparent protective device adapted to the mouth size of each patient. It is particularly beneficial for those who grind their teeth, protecting against further damage.

  • Composite restoration: Tooth-colored material is added to the worn area to restore the shape and function of the damaged tooth.

  • Inlay/Onlay: These are ceramic restorations attached to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars). They restore the tooth's shape and appearance and protect it from further damage.

  • Dental veneers: They are thin, tooth-colored shells bonded to the visible part of the front teeth. They are more esthetic and durable than a composite filling. In addition to replacing lost tissue, they improve the appearance of your teeth, giving you a bright and pleasant smile.

  • Dental crowns: These are caps placed over damaged teeth. It is a good option when the tooth is more than half worn out.