Get The Facts On Dental Attrition and Abrasion From Our Novato Dentist

Written by Dr. McConnell on Mar 15, 2022

Maybe you have heard the terms “abrasion” and “attrition” before, but you’re not really sure what they mean? Maybe you are reading these terms for the first time right now! Either way, this article from our Novato dentists about the basics of attrition and abrasion will help you get the information you need about caring for your smile day in and day out. Let’s get started!


When we use the word “attrition” we are talking about tooth wear that is caused from tooth-on-tooth contact. Patients who regularly grind and clench their teeth, for example, often notice dramatic changes to their smiles due to dental attrition. In fact, whenever your teeth touch—as you chew or speak—attrition can occur.

Attrition generally accumulates and compounds over time. Eventually, you may find that your dental enamel has worn completely away, exposing the dentin below it.


Dental abrasion, on the other hand, occurs when dental enamel is worn away by an outside force. While brushing your teeth is crucial for maintaining oral health, brushing too forcefully, or with a firm-bristled brush can lead to abrasion. Picking at your teeth with toothpicks can also create abrasion. As with attrition, abrasion begins by wearing away protective dental enamel, then dentin, then the dental pulp.

Protective Measures

There are a few things that you can do to minimize the effects of abrasion and attrition:

  • Strengthen enamel using fluoride
  • Eliminate harmful habits (like chewing on ice and hard candies) that contribute to abrasion
  • Seek prompt treatment for bruxism to minimize attrition
  • Limit your exposure to acidic substances, as these soften enamel and accelerate abrasion and attrition

Take control of your oral health by creating a dental plan with our Novato dentists. The easiest way to get started is to call our office or to submit an inquiry using the Contact Us page on our website. We look forward to speaking with you!