Background: Dental erosion manifests as cupped lesions on cusp apices and in fissures of teeth in patients from southeast Queensland referred with excessive tooth wear. When found in young adults, these lesions may indicate early onset of active dental erosion. If the numbers and extent of cupped lesions increase with age, erosion may be a slow cumulative process.
Methods: This cross-sectional study recorded the presence or absence and the relative sizes of cupped lesions from all cusps and occlusal fissures on premolar and permanent molar teeth from study models by image analysis. Type-specimens of cupped lesions were examined.
Results: The incidence by tooth reflected time in the mouth, post-tooth emergence. A linear increase in lesion number and size, with age, was found. However, cupped lesions occurred on mandibular first molar cusp apices as often, and attained greater extent, in adults under 27 years compared with older subjects.
Conclusion: Marked differences were found between lesion number and size, between maxillary and mandibular molar sites that reflect differences in salivary protection against dental erosion. The significance of this study is that the mandibular first permanent molar indicates the age of onset and severity of dental erosion.