Toothbrush abrasion is pretty easy to spot in its later stages, but you can detect it as soon as it starts, if you know what you are looking for.
Your teeth are surrounded by a thin cuff of gum at their base. In a young healthy adult with no gum disease
this totally covers the root of the tooth and bone supporting it, so the only thing visible in the mouth is the crown of the tooth.
The ability of the gum to resist wear from toothbrushing depends on its thickness. The very prominent bony anatomy in the mouth, or teeth that have been orthodontically moved forward in the bone to bring them in line, often have particularly thin areas of gum over them; these are prone to much more rapid wear.
The first sign is some exposed root surface.This becomes visible because of gum recession
; more specifically the wearing away of the cuff of gum by incorrect and over enthusiastic toothbrushing.
The first visible evidence of toothbrush abrasion is the junction between the crown (top of your tooth) and the slightly yellower root surface.
- Eaten out (notched) tooth appearance
This root surface is much softer and doesn't have the strong enamel layer to protect it. Because of this, it wears much more easily and more quickly; over time characteristic scooped out notches begin appearing on your teeth at the gum line. It can look like something has taken a bite out of your teeth.
Unlike gum recession associated with gum disease, the gums tend to be very healthy- firm, pink and hard with no evidence of gingivitis
. Also the area of gum in between the teeth is rarely affected, which makes logical sense since this is harder to get to when brushing.
Toothbrush abrasion causes gum recession in the most prominent and accessible areas to the toothbrush bristles. Once the covering of gum disappears, the root surfaces then take the brunt of the force and begin to wear down.