Tags Posts tagged with "Abrasion"

Abrasion

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Tongue Piercing Licking Lips
©Beccarra/Shutterstock.com

Oral piercing is a practice that seems to be gaining popularity in the United States.  The most common places to get a piercing in your mouth are the lips, tongue, cheek, and the uvula (the “hangy-ball” thing in the back of your throat.) Tongue Piercing Can Hurt Your Teeth!People want to get their tongue pierced for a variety of reasons.  One of the biggest reasons is to make them look trendy — people want to fit in, and if they can be seen as cool for getting their tongue pierced, then they’ll go for it. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the many risks associated with getting your tongue pierced.  I think if people understood the dangers of tongue piercing, fewer piercings would be performed. I’m planning on writing a couple of articles about the risks of tongue piercing.  This first article will focus on ten ways that tongue piercing hurts your mouth and teeth.  The next one will talk about the negative effects that oral piercings have on the rest of your body.

The Risks of Tongue Piercing: 10 Ways Tongue Piercing Hurts Your Mouth and Teeth

1 – Tongue piercing causes chips, cracks, and/or fractures in your teeth. Wearing tongue jewelry can not only damage your teeth, but it can damage expensive dental work that you may have already had done. The effect of tongue jewelry on teeth is especially important when participating in exercise and athletic activities.  When in doubt, take the barbell out!  It is important to note that if you leave out your tongue jewelry for more than a few hours, it may be next to impossible to get the jewelry back in.

Tongue piercings are just one of the many ways you can chip or crack your teeth.  To learn more,read 10 Easy Ways to Chip or Crack Your Teeth.

2 – Tongue piercing causes gum recession, also called localized periodontal disease. If you wear a barbell in your tongue, it can rub up against and irritate the gums on the tongue side of your teeth.  This has led to gum recession in many people who have their tongue pierced.  In older adults, periodontal disease (not cavities) is usually the most common cause of tooth loss. 3 – Tongue piercing can wear down your teeth. Out of habit, many tongue-ring wearers often rub their tongue ring up against their teeth. Over time, this can wear down the enamel. Over time, you could expose dentin or experience increased sensitivity or cavities. If you insist on having a tongue piercing, trying out a shorter barbell may reduce the damage that it inflicts on your mouth — although it would be best to get rid of the tongue jewelry altogether!

Concerned about wearing down your teeth? Learn more about the four ways we wear down our teeth.

4 – Tongue piercing can cause speech impediments. Tongue piercing can make it more difficult to talk.  You use your tongue for making a lot of sounds when you talk.  If you get a tongue ring, it makes it a lot harder to speak correctly. 5 – Tongue piercing can cause nerve damage. An inexperienced piercing parlor worker may inadvertently cause permanent damage to the nerves in your tongue or other areas of the mouth depending on how the tongue is pierced.  The person doing the piercing needs to have a sound knowledge of the anatomy of your tongue.  If you do get your tongue pierced, it’s important to find a reputable, high-quality piercing parlor to cut a hole in your tongue. You probably wouldn’t enjoy having parts of your tongue permanently numb.  Many people hate having their tongue numb for a couple of hours after getting a filling — just imagine how hard it would be to not fully enjoy the taste of your food or constantly have your tongue give you that numb, tingling sensation. 6 – Tongue piercing can cause bad breath. Tongue jewelry is a good place for the plaque in your mouth to live.  It’s harder to brush if you have tongue jewelry.  Also, if you don’t regularly clean your tongue jewelry, it can accumulate bacteria that make your breath smell pretty disgusting! Tongue Piercing Damages Your Mouth! 7 – Tongue piercing can cause a space between your two upper front teeth, also known as a diastema. Although this isn’t very common, it does happen as evidenced by this case report written by orthodontists. 8 – Tongue piercing can cause excessive drooling. Tongue piercing can cause an increase in the amount of saliva you make.  Although saliva is good for the teeth, too much can be a problem.  You probably won’t look too cool with a tongue ring if you leave a puddle of spit everywhere you go! 9 – The metal tongue jewelry can cause a metal hypersensitivity reaction. You could end up being allergic to the metal in your tongue jewelry. If you were excited about having metal tongue jewelry and then end up having to wear a plastic barbell, you may be disappointed. 10 – Tongue piercing can cause pain and infection. The tongue piercing itself could cause pain and other complications.  Many people who have had their tongue pierced say that it was quite painful.  Here’s one story about how much tongue piercing hurts from Yahoo! Answers. You might get an infection depending on how sanitary the piercing parlor is. Most people have some degree of swelling after their tongue piercing. If you have a low tolerance for pain, you may want to reconsider.

More Reading on the Negative Effects of Tongue Piercing

I read a LOT of great articles while researching for this post.  Here are a couple you might be interested in:

Conclusion

Keep in mind that of all of the negative effects listed above, the most common are damaging a tooth and causing gum recession. If you’re thinking about getting your tongue pierced, please re-think your decision.  You may look cool around some of your friends, but the damage that tongue piercing does to your mouth isn’t worth it. Although I didn’t mention this above, because it’s not a huge consequence of tongue piercing, think about how much you love tasting your food —  especially with Thanksgiving tomorrow.  Do you really want to damage some of your valuable taste buds by getting your tongue pierced? For all of the Americans reading this, have a great Thanksgiving day tomorrow!  If you have any questions or comments about tongue piercing and oral health, please leave them in the comments section below.

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Ways Your Teeth Get Worn Down
©Steven Frame/Shutterstock.com

When teeth first come into the mouth, they are in pristine condition and come complete with mamelons, remnants of the tooth’s development.  Over time, our teeth get worn down.  Some people wear their teeth down more than others.

There are four main ways that we wear down our teeth: Abrasion, Attrition, Erosion, and Abfraction.  If you’re not sure what those words mean, keep reading and I’ll explain!  The man in the picture below is wearing down his teeth in one of those four ways.

Wearing Away Teeth: Abrasion, Erosion, and Abfraction

Abrasion

Abrasion happens when objects come into contact with our teeth that mechanically wear them away.  A common way people wear away teeth is by using their teeth as tools, like chewing through tags on clothes or using your teeth to open packages.  Some other examples of abrasion are:

  • When you brush your teeth, the grit in the toothpaste can slowly wear away tooth structure.  Under normal circumstances, this won’t wear away enough tooth structure to be noticeable, but some people who brush their teeth a LOT will wear away a noticeable amount of tooth structure.  This is one of the reasons that our teeth get more yellow as we get older, we are slowly wearing away the enamel and seeing the yellow dentin underneath.
  • Chewing on pencils or any other foreign object.
  • Chewing on food.
  • Chewing tobacco.

Attrition

Attrition is defined as wearing away tooth structure from tooth-to-tooth contact.  Some attrition is normal, it’s how mamelons get worn away.  Attrition gets to be a problem if you are routinely clenching and grinding your teeth.  Many people grind their teeth at night, often without being aware.  We make night guards at our dental school which people can wear to prevent them from grinding their teeth at night.  If you grind your teeth, talk to your dentist about getting a night guard.

In Peter Dawson’s book Functional Occlusion he states, “When wear penetrates enamel into softer dentin, wear increases seven times faster.”  That means that it’s best to get your grinding problem taken care of as soon as possible, because it will only get worse once you grind through the enamel.

Erosion

Erosion occurs when you eat or drink acidic beverages.  The reason we get cavities is because plaque living on our teeth produce acid that over time can dissolve our teeth.

Any time acid comes into contact with our teeth, it can dissolve the crystals that make up our teeth.  Here are some ways that acid comes into contact with our teeth:

  • Eating or drinking acid-containing foods and beverages.  If you’re interested in some related reading, here’s 9 drinks that can dissolve your teeth, and a guide to identifying acids in foods.
  • When we throw up, either from the flu or from an eating disorder such as bulimia, the acidic contents of the stomach wash over our teeth and slowly dissolve them.
  • If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (commonly known as GERD), your mouth will become acidic due to the acids from the stomach making their way back into your mouth.
  • Putting acidic pills or medications in your mouth.  Some people suck on vitamin C tablets.  Others try to put aspirin on a toothache to make it feel better.  Both of these pills are acidic and can cause tooth erosion.

Abfraction

Abfraction is wear at the gumline that has a controversial origin.  Some dental experts say that it comes from stress on the tooth when biting and others say that it comes from abrasion due to the grit found in toothpaste.  In Dawson’s book mentioned above he says, “What we have been calling abfraction lesions are really the result of toothpaste abuse.”

Abfraction lesions are wedge-shaped and usually appear on the cheek/lip side of the teeth.  The book Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology by Neville describes abfraction lesions as “defects that are deep, narrow, and v-shaped…often affect[ing] a single tooth with adjacent unaffected teeth.  In addition, occasional lesions are subgingival, a site typically protected from abrasion and erosion.”

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways that we wear away our teeth.  Many of the causes of excessive wear — consuming acidic foods and drinks, using our teeth inappropriately, and using abrasive toothpastes — are preventable.  Even attrition, which results from grinding your teeth, is easily treated by your dentist.   Hopefully, you can take steps to reduce the wear on your teeth now that you are aware of the causes.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

Oh, and if you’re wondering how the man in the photo above is wearing away his teeth… it’s by abrasion!

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Using Teeth as Tools
©NinaMalyna/Shutterstock.com

This past weekend I went shopping with my wife and got a couple of new shirts.  The tags were stuck onto the shirts with a thin plastic string.  I usually rip them off, but only the tag came off.  With no scissors nearby, I almost used my teeth to get the rest off.  Luckily, I caught myself and was able to remove the annoying plastic string without using my teeth.

Many people damage their teeth by using them inappropriately.  Here’s a few things that you should avoid doing with your teeth in order to keep them as healthy as possible:

Don’t Use Your Teeth To Open Things

Swiss Army KnifeWhether it’s a beer bottle, candy bar, or one of those waterproof FedEx envelopes – resist the urge to use your teeth to help you open it.  Your teeth were not meant to open these things!  Using your teeth on foreign objects, especially bottle caps, can crack them, chip them, or cause malocclusion (poor jaw alignment) by wearing down your teeth unevenly.  Malocclusion can eventually lead to a type of jaw pain called temporomandibular disorder (TMD, commonly known as TMJ.)

Don’t Use Your Teeth As Scissors or Wire Cutters

Like I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I was tempted to use my teeth to cut a plastic tie.  While my teeth are poorly suited for this task, scissors are the perfect tool for such tasks.  I was simply too lazy to go and find a pair.

Do not Use Your Teeth as ScissorsAnother one of my bad habits is using my teeth to cut clear packing tape when the packing tape doesn’t come with a built-in cutter.  I’ve made an effort recently to find scissors when using this type of tape, but I still catch myself using my teeth occasionally.

Believe it or not, some people even use their teeth on wire.   As a kid, I often used wires, batteries, light bulbs, and small electric motors to build fun, not-very-useful contraptions.  The easiest way to remove the insulation from the copper wiring was to bite on it with my two front teeth.  I got to the point where I could do it very efficiently.  Luckily, my dad caught me doing this one day and told me I would ruin my teeth if I persisted.  He was right!  Fortunately, no permanent damage occurred and I started using wire cutters.

Don’t Use Your Teeth as a Third Hand

Try not to Use Your Teeth as a Third HandMy oral pathology teacher once showed us a picture of an elderly woman that had used her front teeth to hold pins while she was knitting and sewing.  Over time, she had worn small holes in her teeth where the pins were placed.  Every time she smiled, very small holes were visible on the bottom of her upper teeth.  A similar thing can happen when construction workers hold nails in their teeth.

Using your teeth to hold things can damage your teeth in the long run.  Also, if you had to hiccup or yawn, holding objects with your teeth  might cause you to choke.

Don’t Use Your Teeth To Chew On Foreign Objects

When I was in third grade, I noticed that lots of the cool kids were chewing on their pencils.  Being a conformist, I started chewing on my pens and pencils.  Sometimes during boring assignments, my classmates and I would compare our writing utensils to see who had inflicted the most damage with their teeth.

Similarly, many children get in the habit of biting their fingernails.  If they continue, it can damage their permanent teeth.

Although addicting, stress-relieving, and sometimes “cool”, biting on foreign objects can weaken or crack your teeth, chip them, and cause you to lose tooth structure.

Don’t Use Your Teeth as a Nut Cracker or Seafood Opener

Nut

Don’t use your teeth to crack open nuts.  As good as the nut tastes, you need to use something other than your teeth to crack the shell.  A nutcracker, perhaps?

Over time, the shell will act like sandpaper on your teeth, sanding away bits of enamel each time you open a nut.  If you do this regularly you will eventually be able to visibly see where you’ve worn away your teeth.

Using Teeth To Open Seafood
We can only hope that this boy didn’t open that shell with his teeth!

Another common misuse of teeth occurs when eating seafood.  In many places, seafood is served in the shell.  Although it may seem natural to use your teeth to remove the shell, the shells are often quite hard and could easily damage your teeth.

Conclusion

Teeth serve many functions.  They were designed to chew food, support our lips and cheeks structurally, and help us speak properly.  A healthy set of teeth also adds to your overall appearance and gives you an attractive smile.

If you want your teeth to function properly, you have to protect and take care of them.  As long as you use your teeth for their intended purpose, and don’t abuse them, you will be able to keep your teeth working well for a long time.