What Causes Wear on the Occlusal Surface?
Wear on the chewing surface of the molars and premolars can develop for a variety of reasons. In some cases, wear and damage are a result of cavities. A paper published in the journal Caries Research suggests that the occlusal surface of the molars is the site most likely to develop cavities, and that those cavities are most likely to develop at a young age, around the time the molars erupt, rather than later in life.
A condition known as bruxism can lead to wear on the molars' and premolars' chewing surfaces. People who have bruxism grind their teeth together or clench their teeth, often in their sleep. The wear and tear on the teeth related to bruxism can lead to pain in the teeth and facial area, cracks or chips in the teeth, and problems with the jaw. While people who grind their teeth might not be aware that they're doing it, a dentist can easily spot signs of the condition and recommend a treatment.
In some cases, wear on the chewing surface can simply be a result of the aging process. Wear on the teeth caused by chewing or physical contact between the teeth is known as attrition. Years of eating, speaking and otherwise using your mouth and teeth can cause wear on the surface. Although you can't avoid getting older, you can talk to your dentist about your options for protecting your teeth as you age.