I remember many years back my dad telling me that his dentist made him a night guard for his "grinding habit." A few years later he underwent a full year of misery from treatment for his esophageal cancer that resulted from undiagnosed Chronic Gastroesophageal Reflux. Had his dentist understood the difference between wear and erosion, and been able to make the referral to a GI physician, the outcome might have been different.

There is an easy way to differentiate between attrition and erosion by simply looking at the teeth.

Attrition: Tooth wear caused by the chronic rubbing of tooth against tooth.

Erosion: Tooth wear caused by long-term exposure to acid, either intrinsically or extrinsically.

Wear of Attrition:Sharp, shiny facets that most often can match up to wear facets on opposing teeth.

Notice how the lower anteriors are lock in key with the upper anteriors. The facets are sharply defined.

Wear of Erosion: Satiny finish, often accompanied by cupping of dentin, and occurring in areas where opposing teeth can't touch. Often on the facial and palatal areas of teeth, and also out of occlusion.

Notice the severe wear on the facial surfaces and occlusal areas that are not opposed.