The tooth’s enamel is one of the hardest materials in the human body, and it protects the sensitive inner structures of the tooth. Although the enamel is quite sturdy, it can still wear away, potentially exposing the tooth’s core to infection and other types of damage. Tooth erosion is linked with decay, so it’s an important concern for your dentist.
You can be on the lookout for signs of enamel erosion, including sensitivity, yellowing of the teeth – which occurs when the dentin underneath the enamel becomes more visible – and pitting of the teeth. If you see any of these symptoms, bring them to the attention of your dentist.
A number of factors can lead to tooth erosion, including the following:
- Excessive consumption of soft drinks or highly acidic foods
- Eating lots of sugary snacks (which gives a food source to bacteria that leave behind acid as a metabolic byproduct)
- Acid reflux disease and other gastrointestinal problems
- Eating disorders like bulimia
- A lack of adequate saliva to clear away bacteria and counteract any acids that may be present in the mouth.
Other conditions may lead to tooth erosion, such as bruxism and an overly aggressive brushing technique. Some patients may have a genetic predisposition to weaker enamel and may be more susceptible to erosion.
If you’ve noticed signs of tooth enamel erosion, your dentist can give you tips to avoid any further damage. Drinking sodas through a straw helps to limit the enamel’s direct exposure to acids, for example. Fluoride treatments can also help to strengthen teeth and make them more resistant to erosion.
You may also need to re-evaluate some of your dietary habits or get treatments for medical or dental problems like GERD or bruxism to limit tooth erosion.
The body has no mechanisms for generating new enamel, so the damage caused by tooth erosion is permanent. Your only recourse is to seek restorative treatment, like a filling or a crown depending on the extent of the damage.
For additional information and to schedule your next visit, contact the office of Dr. Paul Lounsberry today.