Have you noticed notching or pitting on your teeth near the gum line? You are not alone! Decay in this area (called the "cervical" portion of the tooth) is extremely common, particularly in patients over the age of 25. While they come from a few different causes, fixing them is typically straightforward and yields great results.
Defects in these areas are most commonly caused by a phenomenon called abfraction. Here, chronic tooth clenching and grinding causes the dental enamel to flex. As it stresses and strains, the enamel around the gum line becomes weakened and erodes away. This is not unlike how a toothpick weakens in the middle if you repeatedly bend it back and forth. The second most common cause is erosion from aggressive brushing or consumption of acidic foods and beverages. Tooth decay also often plays a role, usually secondary to abfraction or erosion after a food/bacteria trap is created.
Repairing these defects is usually very straightforward. Often times, the tooth will only need minimal modification before a filling can be placed. We usually use more flexible materials to better prevent the filling from falling out. The result is a cosmetic restoration that blends in with your natural dental enamel.
As with any dental procedure, there are certain circumstances that make these fillings difficult to place. Decay close to the gum line may be impossible to treat due to access and moisture problems. Additionally, deep decay always presents a risk for irritating the nerve of the tooth, thus requiring a root canal. If you think you might need a filling near your gum line, the first step is to stop by our office for a complete dental exam. If you have any more questions about fillings, materials or what causes tooth decay, please give us a call!