You shouldn’t worry if you are not sure about the difference between dental abfraction and abrasion. Even in the dentistry world, there is an ongoing discussion regarding the minor differences between them because seen from the outside; they are almost identical. Clinically, they are the same thing, and when it comes to their treatment options, those are also similar. To help you better understand these two problems, in our article, we will be approaching the abfraction vs. abrasion debate, along with what each one is and the major differences between them.

It’s also very interesting that for both of these dental problems, doctors rule out common causes like bruxism or tooth grinding, and the improper alignment of the jaws or teeth, meaning malocclusion. Apart from this, doctors often misdiagnose an abfraction for an abrasion or the other way around. It’s important not to do this because it can prevent the patient from getting proper care, or can make a patient lose money, time and effort in vain, for a problem they don’t have. So, here are a few important details about these two dental problems, along with what they are and their most common causes. Here we go!


An abfraction happens when a V-shaped notch appears at the patient’s gumline. It’s usually caused by the bending forces that are often applied to the teeth. Most frequently, its cause it’s malocclusion, and in this case, there is a normal force applied, but it’s damaging because of the misaligned teeth. The other frequent cause its bruxism, in which case there are chronic heavy forces applied to the teeth. They are produced by the clenching or grinding of the teeth. It’s worth noting that old abfractions can become rounded over time because of the toothbrush’s force. This prompts many doctors to misdiagnose it for an abrasion.


When it comes to an abrasion, it’s a rounded notch that also appears at the patient’s gumline. Visibly, it can be indistinguishable from an abfraction. However, a doctor should know that in cross-section, abrasions are not that angular and that there are small differences that can be recognized. Its most frequent cause is the force that heavy toothbrushing applies over the exposed tooth roots. In time, this reduces the surface and produces that rounded notch.


Usually, the treatment options for both abfractions and abrasions are the same. It can either be a tooth-colored filling to cover the notch or a connective tissue graft which also covers the notch. When it comes to abfractions, certain doctors may choose not to intervene until it has at least 1 millimeter in depth. Usually, these problems can cause temperature or sweets sensitivity. Other treatment options may include a bite adjustment or orthodontic tooth movement, depending on the seriousness of the problem and the dentist treating the patient.

Summing it all up

So, what did you think about our article on the abfraction vs. abrasion debate? Do you now know what the differences and similarities between these two problems are? Tell us your experiences with this kind of issues down below!

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