Learn the Lingo: Dental Abfractions

Dental abfractions are small notches or ledges found at or near the gumline.  They usually look a few shades darker than the enamel and can often be felt with your fingernail.  Although they are really common, they can be quite a cause for concern.


Our teeth naturally bend and flex when we chew and/or grind our teeth.  A large percentage of our population does not have a well-adjusted bite.  When teeth are misaligned and get more pressure than they are made to handle, the enamel or dentin starts to break away from the rest of the tooth.  Some medications like sleeping aids and antidepressants have been linked to nocturnal grinding and stress can also contribute as well.

Warning Signs

Abfractions are easy for a dentist to see during routine examinations.  They are not usually painful but many patients report cool or sweet sensitivity in these unprotected areas of the teeth.  You may also notice that food and plaque migrate toward these areas and that the gums have started to recede.

Possible Treatment Options

Abfractions are usually addressed from a few different angles.  First, we want to get your teeth in a stable resting position before adding any fillings or crowns.  Sometimes this means orthodontic correction and other times we will fit you with an occlusal guard to relax the jaw muscles and protect your enamel.  Small tooth colored fillings are used to restore the smaller damaged areas and keep bacteria out of the space.

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