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451 Andover Street, Suite 208 | North Andover, MA 01845 | 978.794.0750

What’s the Difference Between Tooth Erosion, Attrition, and Abrasion

Tooth erosion and tooth abrasion may sound like they could be describing the same thing, but they are, in fact, two separate ways in which tooth tissue can wear down. There are multiple words to describe how tooth tissue such as enamel and dentin can be worn down, and based on what caused the dental wear, a different word is used. This distinction is important since it can inform how the tooth wear is treated.

Tooth Erosion

This type of tooth wear is a result of acid dissolving the tooth away, when the acid is not the result of oral bacteria. This type of dental wear is seen in people who drink soda and fruit juices, which can be very acidic. Dental erosion is also common in people who throw up regularly (whether as a result of cancer treatment or bulimia) or those with acid reflux, since the exceptionally strong stomach acids have a strong negative impact on the tooth.

In order to treat dental erosion the core cause of it has to stop first. Once the reason for the erosion stops, the dentist may recommend dental bonding to fix minor tooth wear. Crowns and dental veneers may be needed in more extreme cases. If not enough of the tooth remains, the tooth will need to be extracted and replaced with a dental implant and crown.

Tooth Attrition

Dental attrition is a result of the teeth grinding against each other, primarily seen in people with bruxism. People often clench and grind their teeth at night without noticing, leading to exposure of sensitive tooth tissue underneath the enamel.

To treat tooth attrition, a dentist may recommend sleeping with a custom-made night guard that fits comfortably in the patient’s mouth. If the tooth structure has altered significantly as a result of the dental attrition, a dentist will have to perform some restorative treatments as in the case of tooth erosion.

Tooth Abrasion

Dental abrasion is dental wear that’s a result of a foreign object wearing down the surface of the tooth. This type of dental wear can be a result of brushing too hard or metal objects in the mouth such as oral piercings.

For dental abrasion a dentist may recommend changing brushing habits or removing any oral piercings. As with dental erosion and attrition, if there’s any significant damage to the teeth a restoration may be needed.

If you are feeling more tooth sensitivity than usual and are worried it could be a result of tooth wear, or if your teeth are visibly worn, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with one of North Andover Dental Partners‘s prosthodontists in order to restore your oral health.

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Here at North Andover Dental Partners, we work diligently to protect our patient's rights and privacy. Requesting an appointment via our Internet portal is considered part of what HIPAA has identified as electronically protected information (ePHI). Unfortunately, despite the best efforts we make or take, there are people or entities that may attempt to intercept the data you transmit to us. By checking the box, and electronically making an appointment, you understand that you are making an appointment over the internet and that North Andover Dental Partners will keep this information confidential but cannot guarantee that others, outside of our practice, may not illegally intercept this communication. As a result of continuing, you are sending this transmission and accepting the inherent risk(s) associated with making this request for an appointment. As an alternative, you are always welcome to contact our office via telephone to schedule your appointment.


The information presented here is not intended or implied to be medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should be used for informational purposes only.