Enamel erosion is an important dental issue, which can affect both a patient’s smile and their overall oral health. But what is enamel erosion? How does it happen, and how can it be prevented or treated? Let’s go over this so that you can understand the issue and what your options are.
What Is Enamel Erosion?
The outer layer of your teeth is made of a hard, bony substance called enamel. It’s the toughest substance in the human body—much harder than bone—and it protects your teeth from all sorts of damage as long as it’s properly cared for. However, regular use via chewing food and normal bodily functions expose teeth to wear and tear, which can lead to enamel erosion, ie the wearing away of the enamel on the outer surface of the tooth. Many things can cause enamel erosion, including:
- Excessive soft drink consumption (high levels of phosphoric and citric acids)
- Fruit drinks (some acids in fruit drinks are more erosive than battery acid)
- Dry mouth or low salivary flow (xerostomia)
- Diet (high in sugar and starches)
- Acid reflux disease (GERD)
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Some medications
- Genetics or inherited medical conditions
- Environmental factors (friction, wear and tear, stress, and corrosion)
What Are The Symptoms?
Enamel erosion may take some time to develop; some of the causes are long-term issues that need a while to manifest as enamel damage. However, in addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, avoiding the controllable causes of enamel erosion, and sticking to a regular brushing and flossing regimen, here are some symptoms of enamel erosion to watch out for.
- Tooth Pain: Worn or damaged enamel can make teeth more sensitive to temperature changes from hot or cold foods.
- Discoloration: Your teeth may appear more yellow because more of the dentin (the layer under the enamel) is exposed.
- Transparency: Your front teeth may look transparent near the edges where you bite.
- Cracks and Cups: As the enamel erodes, small cracks, chips, or other deformations may appear on the surface of your tooth.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s time to schedule a trip to the dentist and have them examine your teeth so that they can diagnose the cause of the problem and prescribe a course of treatment.
What Can Be Done?
Enamel is tough stuff, but unfortunately it doesn’t contain living cells and is one of the parts of your body that can’t grow back. The good news is that enamel erosion takes a long time to develop, so prevention via healthy lifestyle choices and practices is generally the best and easiest first step in preventing it. Brushing and flossing daily, choosing healthy foods and beverages, and getting regular checkups and cleanings go a long way toward stopping enamel erosion before it starts. However, should enamel erosion occur, there are some things that can be done about it.
For tooth damage from causes like enamel erosion, a variety of treatments exist. The most basic is called tooth bonding. In tooth bonding, a tooth-colored resin is applied to the damaged or discolored portion of the tooth, covering the affected area and preventing further damage. It’s a simple procedure and generally free of discomfort. For more serious cases of enamel erosion or other tooth damage, the dentist may choose to apply a veneer or crown to the affected tooth to prevent further decay.
Whether you’re concerned about enamel erosion or just need a basic checkup and cleaning, BlueWave Dentistry is here to help. Get in touch with us today to make an appointment and we’ll help you find the oral health solutions you need.