It’s not just about decay – Mark Allen General Manager Coltene

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  Posted by: Dental Design      11th December 2019

In the UK, people are becoming more aware of the value of oral health. If you asked your patients to tell you what they understand by preventive dentistry, they’d probably say things like “cleaning properly” “going to the dentist regularly” and “trying to avoid sugar”.

But looking after your teeth means protecting them from non-carious damage too. Non-carious defects include injury and lesions caused by erosion, abrasion and abfraction and can also necessitate restorative work to fix.

Sometimes, a seemingly innocent habit can be the reason for tooth fracture or damage. For example, a recent survey shone a spotlight on the different ways that people misuse their teeth.[i] An ‘innocent’ pen chewing habit is far less innocent if a patient considers that the long-term abrasive action could lead to tooth wear which will need repairing by the dentist.

At any age, damage to teeth can occur due to an avoidable injury. For example, dental injuries are common for anyone playing recreational sport, as well as elite athletes.[ii] Patients who regularly play sports should ensure that they don’t risk an avulsed tooth, because they haven’t protected their mouth and jaw correctly. A mouth guard should be considered essential in order to prevent damage caused by a heavy blow, including a fall. Aside from the obvious activities like cricket, hockey, rugby and boxing where mouth protection is essential, non-contact sports also carry the risk of orofacial injury. Interestingly, the American Dental Association recommends a mouth guard for all recreational sports.[iii]

Aside from avoidable injuries, bruxism, excessive consumption of acidic food/drink, xerostomia (where the benefits of a healthy salivary flow are impeded) and over-zealous brushing are all factors for non-carious damage. Patients who brush too vigorously may think that by giving their teeth a good scrub that they are removing
the optimal amount of bacteria and debris – and enamel is tough enough to take it, right? But practitioners know that rough scrubbing can not only cause tooth wear but will also damage the delicate gum line. A recap of correct technique should be given at every maintenance appointment and the use of abrasive cleaning products must also be warned against.

For dentists, they may find themselves recommending restorative treatment for non-carious damage, as well as dental injury. For a patient who cleans properly and visits the dentist regularly yet is frustrated about needing a tooth or teeth restored because of their grinding habit, they should be assured that there are minimally invasive, efficient treatment options available. COLTENE has a high-quality range of restorative products and materials, from the BRILLIANT Crios composite bloc (ideal for bruxism patients) to the BRILLIANT COMPONEER™ for speedy yet stunning chairside restorations, no laboratory necessary.



A truly comprehensive and effective prevention message must cover non-carious damage as well as how to prevent decay in permanent teeth. Non-carious and carious damage may necessitate restorative therapy to fix; if a patient who is orally healthy is anxious about needing dental work, the clinician must reassure them that they only use the highest-quality, efficient and ethical materials for a stable outcome.


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[i] Oral Health Foundation (2019). ‘National Smile Month Nationwide Survey 2019’, Atomik Research, May 2019. Link: (accessed June 2019).


[ii] Saini R. Sports dentistry. National Journal of Maxillofacial Surgery. 2011 Jul; 2(2): 129.


[iii] ADA American Dental Association. Five Health Organizations Double Down on Mouth Guards, 1 April 2016. Found at: (accessed June 2019).

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