Enamel is the strongest material in the human body. It allows your teeth to withstand the enormous forces exerted by your jaw muscles during chewing. For instance, in order to comfortably partake of a well-done steak, from 60 to 80 pounds of pressure is needed to break that steak up into manageable chunks. However, like any material, teeth become worn over time.
When a tooth is chipped at the gum line, this probably occurred due to dental erosion caused by bacteria that are present on teeth. While not all bacteria erode enamel, some excrete an acidic byproduct that eats away at tooth enamel. The reason such erosion may occur at the gum line is because the enamel in that area is thinner than that of the rest of a tooth.
A Dentist Will First Determine the Cause
Initially, when you show up at your dentist's office with a gum line cavity, they will first attempt to ascertain the reason for the cavity. This to ensure that there isn't another dental issue that might have caused the chip in the tooth. For instance, when a patient grinds their teeth, they get what dentists refer to as "abfraction" cavities. Likewise, excessive brushing or using excessive force when brushing can wear down teeth at the gum line, leaving a notch in the tooth.
When gums become irritated due to grinding or tooth brushing, they recede, pulling away from their natural position. When this happens, the cementum, which is the weaker layer covering the roots of teeth, is exposed. Since cementum is weaker than enamel, it is also more prone to cavities. Therefore, it is important that your dentist examine the rest of your teeth along with the chipped tooth.
Preventative Measures Will be Taken
If grinding or over-brushing is the cause of the chip at the gum line, your dentist will address those issues before you return home. They may suggest a softer tooth brush and ensure you are brushing your teeth with the right technique, should brushing be the problem. Tooth-grinding, however, may require further treatment beyond simple tooth restoration.
In the meantime, your dentist will prescribe you with a night guard to protect your teeth from wear caused by nocturnal grinding (bruxism).
Your Dentist Will Fill the Tooth
Restoring the tooth should be a simple matter of using composite resin to fill in the damaged area. This will restore the tooth and protect the underlying layer from further decay. You may experience sensitivity for several days, however, so be careful when drinking hot and cold drinks.
If you spot a chip in a tooth next to the gum line, get it treated by a dentist as soon as possible. A cavity at the gum line can spread quickly due to the absence of enamel in the area, and if not treated soon, the nerve may become infected.