The main functions of our teeth are biting, chewing, and smiling. While we might think of these as being separate, these functions are closely linked. It’s not just that beauty and function tend to go hand in hand. It’s also true that if functions like biting and chewing aren’t properly managed, they can lead to smile damage that will significantly impact the appearance of your smile.

handsome young man with a smile on his faceChipping

Chipping is when a small part of the tooth enamel breaks off. Our teeth, though very strong, are brittle like glass. Tooth enamel is designed to accommodate a certain amount of cracking, but if they experience too much force, they can chip.

This can happen for many reasons. Usually, it’s related to some kind of dental trauma. Perhaps you are hit in the face while playing sports (which you should guard against with a mouthguard), or perhaps you fell. However, sometimes an unbalanced bite can lead to chipping because your teeth meet unevenly, leading to sudden force on one tooth that causes it to chip.

A chipped tooth is usually a cosmetic dentistry problem. We often address them temporarily with dental bonding, similar to white fillings, but the best long-term treatment for a chipped tooth is a dental veneer. Veneers are attractive and durable, likely to last ten years or more (if you protect them from bite problems).

Cracking

Dental cracking comes in many forms. Some of these cracks are minor, mostly cosmetic problems. Others are more serious and may lead to major tooth damage or even tooth loss.

Minor dental cracking is common in people with a bad bite. The small cracks in your enamel appear as vertical lines in your teeth. They are called craze lines, and they can become a major cosmetic problem because they accumulate stains.

More major dental cracks can be related to trauma, an imbalanced bite, or both. If your teeth experience major trauma, part of the tooth can crack off. Your teeth can also develop cracks because of an unbalanced bite that puts excessive force on one or a few teeth. These stress cracks can make your teeth more vulnerable to trauma, increasing your risk of a major cracked tooth.

Cracked teeth receive a variety of treatments, depending on how serious the cracks are. For craze lines, we treat them as a cosmetic dentistry problem. Teeth whitening can sometimes effectively erase them by eliminating staining. Other times, we might cover them with bonding or veneers.

Larger cracks in your teeth might require a dental crown to fix. If the crack penetrates to the pulp–the inner, living part of the tooth–we might recommend root canal therapy. Other times, the crack might reach the tooth root, and then the tooth might need to be extracted and replaced, ideally with a dental implant

Wear

Wear is a common effect of an imbalanced bite on your smile. Over time, your tooth enamel will wear away, causing your tall teeth to get shorter. As a result, your teeth won’t show as much when you smile. They might not show at all!

Left untreated, tooth wear might destroy your teeth. Then your teeth would need to be extracted and replaced with dental implants. However, we more commonly treat worn teeth before this happens. Dental veneers can restore the original length of your teeth, but we want to make sure to resolve bite issues before or at the same time we place veneers. 

Abfraction

Up until now, we’ve talked about tooth damage that happens at the cusps of your teeth, the places where teeth come together in biting and chewing. But bite forces can also cause damage further down the tooth. Abfraction is when stress on the tooth causes the enamel to flake away where it’s thinnest, at the neck of the tooth near the gum line.

Abfraction not only damages the tooth: the enamel fragments can irritate and damage your gums, causing them to recede. This gives you exposed areas of dentin or cementum–less attractive parts of the tooth–at the gum line.

If we catch abfraction early, we might be able to restore the damage at the same time we rebalance your bite. However, cementum and dentin are more vulnerable to decay, and this can lead to tooth loss. 

The Kois Deprogrammer Can Help You Avoid Bite Problems

To avoid these types of damage to your smile, it’s important to make sure the bite forces in your mouth are balanced. With a balanced bite, your teeth will evenly share the load of biting and chewing. This will protect your teeth from chipping, cracking, wear, and abfraction.

To restore a proper balance to your bite, Las Vegas dentist Dr. James B. Polley uses a Kois Deprogrammer. A Kois deprogrammer works by keeping your teeth from interlocking when your jaw closes. This gives your jaw more freedom to move. This in turn reduces stress and tension in the jaw muscles. Over time, this also eliminates the muscle memory that would make your muscles continue to put your teeth into the interlocked position. Your jaw will be naturally relaxed and your bite balanced and healthy. 

Let Dr. Polley Protect Your Smile in Las Vegas

If you are looking for a Las Vegas dentist capable of using cosmetic dentistry to give you a beautiful smile, restorative dentistry to rebuild your beautiful smile, and preventive dentistry to protect your beautiful smile, then you’re looking for Dr. Polley. Dr. Polley has extensive experience and training in all three types of dentistry and can help you enjoy a healthy attractive smile for life.

Please call (702) 873-0324 or use our contact form today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Polley in Las Vegas.