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J Am Dent Assoc. 2001 Dec;132(12):1694-701; quiz 1726-7.

Examining the prevalence and characteristics of abfractionlike cervical lesions in a population of U.S. veterans.

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Dental Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Indianapolis, USA.



Abfraction is believed to be caused by biomechanical loading forces. It may be due to flexure and ultimate fatigue of tooth tissues that occur away from the point of occlusal loading. Other possible causes of cervical lesions include toothbrush abrasion and erosion. The purpose of this study was to investigate the characteristics and prevalence of abfraction-like lesions in a population of U.S. veterans.


The authors evaluated 103 teeth with noncarious cervical lesions in 32 subjects and characterized them based on the surface on which the lesion was located, history of toothbrush abrasion, size of the lesion, presence of plaque, surface texture, and presence and size of occlusal wear facets.


Clinical examination revealed that adjacent control teeth had a significantly lower percentage of surfaces with plaque than did teeth with cervical lesions. Control teeth also had significantly less gingival recession than did affected teeth. Seventy-five percent of subjects reported a history of using a firm toothbrush, and 78.1 percent reported using a brushing technique that is known to cause toothbrush abrasion in the affected area. Affected teeth had neither significantly different occlusal wear facets nor occlusal contacts than control teeth. No significant correlations were found between cervical lesion dimensions and facet area.


Toothbrush abrasion is strongly suspected as contributing to the formation of the majority of wedge-shaped lesions in this group of subjects. A small subset of lesions is thought to have resulted from some other phenomenon. Although the presence or contribution of occlusal stresses in the direct formation of these lesions could not be measured directly, the possibility of abfraction could not be eliminated.


Because the existence of abfraction could not be ruled out in about 15 percent of the cases, teeth with noncarious, wedge-shaped lesions warrant careful occlusal evaluation, with the possible need for occlusal adjustment or bitesplint therapy to treat bruxism.

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