Did you know that tooth enamel is the strongest and most durable tissue in our body? Stronger than our bones and harder than steel! Tooth enamel is the substance in the outer layer of your teeth. Enamel is responsible for damage and protecting your teeth.
However, don’t let the strength of tooth enamel fool you. Tooth enamel can be broken down and destroyed, leading to a condition called “enamel erosion.” This can lead to serious dental problems and pain later on.
Learn more about tooth enamel erosion, how you can prevent it, and what treatments are available to treat erosion.
Symptoms of Tooth Enamel Erosion
It’s important to first understand the symptoms of enamel erosion so you know exactly what to expect if you’re not careful.
Increased Tooth Sensitivity
As the enamel wears off, more of your tooth is exposed to the substances you eat and drink. You may feel increased sensitivity to temperature (things that are too hot or too cold), certain textures (crisp items, hard foods, etc.) and flavors (especially acidic, hard foods, drinks). Depending on the level of erosion you encounter, this can cause anything from mild discomfort to extreme pain.
Discoloration is one of the first signs you’ll notice with enamel erosion. Your teeth may be stained and yellow. Teeth may exhibit varying degrees of discoloration, which can cause the teeth to look stained and not aesthetically pleasing.
Translucent or Shiny Teeth
Along with the discoloration, you will notice parts of your teeth that appear clear or translucent. You may also notice some spots that look extra bright.
Cracks and Bruises on the Teeth
Your teeth lose their strength as the enamel breaks down. This can cause teeth to crack, chip, and scratch more easily. You may also notice small indentations, known as pits, in your teeth.
What Causes Tooth Enamel Erosion?
There are many causes of enamel erosion as well as various symptoms.
Poor Dental Hygiene
One of the most common causes of tooth enamel erosion is poor dental hygiene. Simply following the basics of dental hygiene is often enough to prevent erosion.
Sugar, acidic foods (citrus, soda, wine, etc.), coffee, and diets rich in starches can all cause enamel erosion. When you combine the consumption of such substances with poor dental hygiene, you are preparing yourself for the deterioration of your tooth enamel.
Certain health disorders can also contribute to enamel erosion.
Dry mouth can be caused by a few different things. These include:
.Some types of drugs (eg methamphetamines and cannabis)
A low amount of saliva, such as a dry mouth, greatly contributes to erosion.
Anorexia often leads to malnutrition, which can cause tooth enamel to erode. Individuals suffering from bulimia are more susceptible to erosion. Given the acidity in vomit, the difficulty of vomiting regularly erodes tooth enamel.
Stomach acids can often reach your mouth through your esophagus. This can erode your tooth enamel.
Grinding your teeth is often the result of stress and anxiety. While occasional grinding is normal and usually not harmful, constant grinding of teeth will definitely erode your enamel.
How Is Tooth Enamel Erosion Treated?
The biggest problem with enamel erosion is that there is no way for your enamel to “regrow.” Enamel is not a living tissue, so once enamel is worn there is no real way to restore it.
The fact that tooth enamel is unrecoverable is the best course of action to prevent enamel erosion from occurring in the first place. This means reducing or eliminating certain foods from your diet, maintaining a good dental hygiene routine, and avoiding practices that can cause enamel erosion.
If you have a tendency to grind your teeth, it is important to protect them from erosion by wearing a mouth guard. You can also look for ways to reduce stress and anxiety to reduce how much or how often you grind your teeth.
If you’ve already had significant erosion, your dentist can assist you with bonding. Tooth bonding involves placing a strong, plastic, tooth-like substance over damaged teeth. This can protect worn teeth, chipped, cracked teeth and pitted teeth from enamel erosion. If you have experienced yellowing or discoloration, bonding will also correct the color of your teeth.
Veneers or Crowns
If you have severe erosion, the dentist may recommend veneers or crowns. These are made of porcelain and are specially molded to fit your mouth in terms of shape, color and size. Veneers and crowns