Mill Valley Dentist Discussion Dental Attrition and Abrasion

Written by Dr. McConnell on Mar 15, 2022

Dental attrition and dental abrasion are quite similar, as both of these processes affect dental enamel density. However, there are a few important distinguishing factors of attrition and abrasion, respectively, and that’s what our Mill Valley dentists are going to be discussing today. Let’s get started!


Attrition refers to the wearing away of dental material due to tooth-on-tooth contact. Our top and bottom teeth make contact all the time, and this contact wears away dental enamel over time. Attrition is accelerated by bruxism, or chronic dental grinding and clenching.

It is impossible to completely eliminate dental attrition, as our teeth necessarily come into contact when we eat and speak. However, we can slow the rate of attrition to keep our teeth healthier for longer.


Abrasion also causes your teeth to wear down, but this damage is caused by outside forces rather than by other teeth. When, for example, you brush your smile forcefully or with a brush that is too firm, your dental enamel will thin as a result. Using toothpicks can also cause abrasion, which is why we strongly encourage you to refresh your smile with floss instead. 

Protective Measures

In order to minimize tooth wear due to both attrition and abrasion, you can:

  • Minimize acid-exposure, as acidic substances make dental enamel softer than normal
  • Seek prompt and effective treatment from bruxism (dental grinding and clenching)
  • Use products with fluoride to help strengthen and remineralize enamel
  • Refrain from chewing on ice or hard candies, as these habits create abrasion

If you are worried about the effects of abrasion and attrition on you own smile, our Mill Valley dentists can help you develop a dental plan that safeguards your smile. Please don’t hesitate to call our team to schedule a personal consultation, or simply to ask a question. We look forward to speaking with you!