What are the causes of gum line erosion and decay?

What are the causes of gum line erosion and decay?

A common tooth problem with adults over the age of 35 is erosion or decay along the gum line. Erosions are groves in your teeth that appear along the gum line. 

Dentists disagree what causes these grooves, but there are two main lines of thought. One group thinks they are caused by grinding and the other group thinks they are caused by excessive brushing. I believe they are caused by both and will explain how to resolve this problem.


The best way to reduce grinding your teeth is to reduce your stress and calm down. In reality, most grinding is done in your sleep. You should consider wearing a bite plate to reduce nighttime grinding.

Toothbrush abrasion

Thorough, gentle brushing for two minuets, twice a day with a soft toothbrush is how you should clean your teeth. You will want to find a good, quality brush marked “soft.” If you are using anything else, you should stop right now and put it in the garbage.

Why should you fix these defects?

Some of these are very sensitive. Restoring them reduces the sensitivity. Deep grooves undermine the tooth structure and can cause fracture of the tooth. I believe anything over one millimeter deep should be restored to keep the grooves from getting any deeper.

How are they restored?

I usually use tooth colored material for these fillings. Several small grooves are placed in the defects and the enamel margins are beveled. The grooves help to hold the restoration in mechanically. The bevel exposes more enamel for bonding and helps to hide the junction between the tooth and the filling.

All fillings you get to help resolve this problem should be bonded. These fillings rely on this bond to keep the restorations sealed and reduce future decay. The filling should be bonded in and shaped with small burs and then polished with special disks. The teeth are restored and the fillings will often be hard to detect.

About this Angie’s List Expert: Dr. Joe Nolan is the owner of West Linn Dental, providing dentistry services in West Linn, Ore. Since 1980, Dr. Nolan has specialized in preventative dentistry, routine hygiene, cleanings, crowns, dentures, root canals, fillings, veneers and more.

As of January 2, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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5 common causes of sensitive teeth


Aggressive brushing with a hard toothbrush is one of the most common causes of sensitivity, as it brushes away gum tissue, says Gausmann. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)
Aggressive brushing with a hard toothbrush is one of the most common causes of sensitivity, as it brushes away gum tissue, says Gausmann. (Photo by Katie Jacewicz)

Sensitive teeth can cause discomfort and limit eating and drinking choices. However, this issue can often be controlled or eliminated with a few simple changes.

Leave a Comment - 4


Alice Hardwick

Subject: Front gumline cavities

I have about 5 cavities on my top teeth. They haven't begun to hurt yet, which is good. I have a dental appointment soon and I am afraid he will want to extract those teeth, which I don't want. This is a second opinion. The last dentist said I had gingivitis and some bone loss. I don't know about the bone loss but I see gingivitis no where and my teeth are intact. From what I understand and have read those cavities can be fixed, but can you do it in several sessions?

Ron Niska

Subject: grooves at gumline

I have noticed a decline in the use of mechanical devices that clean teeth at the gumline, which is a very painful procedure . My hunch is fear of litigation has driven the providers back to the older methods. With the decline in insurance coverage I have been delaying restoration due to the expense.


Subject: Grooves on teeth at gumline

How come no one mentions the scaling dentist want to do once a year?
The electrical high speed vibrator not only removes tartar and other so called build up, but also removes part of the tooth. And this is done right at the gumline.
I don't see how teeth grinding can cause any of this, as you grind only the bottom of your upper teeth, and the top of the lower teeth - you dont grind at the gumline. Only thge dentist does that.


Subject: I absolutely agree with this

I absolutely agree with this comment! I have gum line erosion on front teeth and a couple of dentists told me that's because of grinding...What? How can I grind front upper teeth at the gum line?! I can't even do that if I really really try. By the way, each time you get your teeth polished, a microscopic level of enamel is removed. And they continued to polish my teeth at the gum line knowing I have this problem. These are the "doctors" that are treating us.

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