Novato Dentist Talks to Patients About Attrition and Abrasion

Written by Dr. McConnell on Dec 12, 2023

Attrition and abrasion are two naturally occurring processes that alter dental enamel over time. Our Novato dentists have found that the more our patients know about these conditions, the better equipped they are to safeguard their smiles with at-home and preventive dental care. Keep reading to get the facts on attrition and abrasion…


Attrition is the process by which your dental enamel thins and wears away due to tooth-to-tooth contact. Our top and bottom teeth touch each other thousands of times a day, and for the most part, this contact is inconsequential. Over time, however, the effects of this contact can compound—this is attrition.

Certain conditions, like bruxism, can greatly accelerate rates of attrition. That is why it’s so important for you to stay alert for habits that can harm your oral health.


Abrasion, on the other hand, occurs when dental enamel is worn away by outside forces, rather than other teeth. If, for example, you apply too much pressure when you brush your smile, you will likely notice the effects of abrasion sooner rather than later. Abrasion can also occur if you scrape at your enamel with toothpicks, and if you chew on hard substances/pens/ice.

Protective Measures

We can protect our smiles by minimizing harmful dental habits and by fortifying natural enamel…

  • Use products that contain fluoride, which strengthens and remineralizes enamel
  • Cut out harmful habits, like chewing on hard candies and ice
  • Rinse your smile regularly to encourage enamel remineralization
  • Seek treatment for dental grinding and clenching to minimize attrition
  • Limit your consumption of acidic foods and drinks, as these soften enamel
  • Utilize gentle oral hygiene products and tools to safeguard enamel

While it is impossible to completely eliminate attrition and abrasion, there are steps you can take to protect your smile. Our Novato dentists are happy to answer any questions you may have—just give us a call to get started!