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ASK YOUR DENTIST 12. - Stress lines

“I have excellent oral health and I pride myself on my smile (I am a used car salesman and my smile is important for my professional career), but I have been noticing some problems. I do not suffer from tooth decay but I am noticing little lines or indentations on my front teeth. Oddly there are no lines in the back. I brush after every meal, and I floss and use mouthwash twice a day, and go to my regular check ups but my dentist did not mention anything. Is this normal? Will I have to get veneers?"

Yours truly

Chris Dodgefelt

Hello Chris!

I do not think that you are suffering from tooth decay as your attendance at the dentists office for checkups is superb and your dentist would have spotted even the tiniest demineralization not to mention any signs of decay. Your at home oral health care is rigorous, indeed it may seem that your problem is that it is a little bit too rigorous. Usually stress lines like the ones you mentioned come about from the enamel being brushed off of your tooth, which means you brush too vigorously. This means that the amount of times you brush is good but because you brush too strong your enamel is coming off. Brush less violently and you will not have this problem in the future. The fact that only your front teeth have this problem reinforces my opinion, because you cannot get to your back teeth with the same force. You also probably brush up and down which will leave you with bacteria lodged in your tooth roots and with lines on your front teeth. So brush using circular motions only, and don’t be so vigorous.

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That is how you can prevent further damage but what do we do with the damage that we already have? Use fluoride rich toothpastes and there are ointments that you can leave on your teeth that provide extra fluoride. Eat calcium and magnesium supplements to help you build your tooth enamel back up. Eventually you will see the ines getting smaller but whether or not they will disappear entirely depends on how extensive the damage is. Ask your dentist what kinds of products you should be using to build your enamel back up.  

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