If you're old enough to remember Bill Cosby's question “Why is there air?” you have probably come to some peace with the dental question in the title. The ability to bring patients to an understanding of their dental health needs presumes the ability to see and understand what is happening in their mouths. I think I know why we (dentists) are cautious, perhaps even reluctant, when treating patients with worn dentitions. If there is decay we know what happened and we believe we can counter what caused it predictably. With wear, we often don't know the questions to ask, so I'd like to share a few that have helped me understand WHY there is wear.

  • Is there more wear on front teeth or on back teeth?
  • Is there more wear on the right or on the left?
  • Is there wear in places where teeth can't touch each other?
  • Is the wear shiny or satiny?
  • Are the edges of the wear facets flat or cupped?

Answering these questions unravels the reason(s) for the wear I see and gives me the information I need to predictably make recommendations to my patients. They provide the answer to my question of why there is wear.

By the way, the answer to Bill Cosby's question... “Air is what keeps basketballs from going flat.”