Tooth enamel erosion is a common occurrence worldwide, steering patients towards dental clinics. But despite being one of the leading causes of visits to the dentist, enamel erosion, most people remain unaware about the condition or the enamel altogether.
Lack of Knowledge about Tooth Enamel
Knowing about tooth enamel, what damages it, and how one can look after theirs better is essential information that can help a person take care of their teeth more effectively and avoid dental problems. The lack of knowledge about tooth enamel is many times due to ignorance when visiting the dentist.
If you want to understand oral hygiene standards better, you need to ask your dentist all the right questions. That said, most people don’t know what to ask their orthodontist; they generally entrust the health of their teeth to the expert. While that’s okay, you should still ask your oral surgeon some questions to take better care of your tooth enamel. Keeping that in mind, we have rounded up all the critical questions in this guide. Read through it so that you are well-prepared at your next dentist appointment.
What Is Tooth Enamel?
Every tooth has four tissue layers. Each of which has a different function in allowing a person to chew and perform all other duties.
Enamel is the hard calcified outermost layer of a tooth. It covers all the inner layers, ensuring that all the sensitive bits beneath it remain protected. The enamel doesn’t have any living cells, which means it can’t repair itself in case of damage or decay. Therefore, having an impeccable enamel care routine is a must, or else you’ll have to run to the dentist more often than you like.
The crown comes right after the enamel; it is the top visible part of a tooth.
Gums Or Gingiva
The red soft tissues that protect teeth roots and hold the unerupted teeth until they mature enough to sprout are called gums.
The center of a tooth is composed of a fleshy pulp that holds all the nerves, veins, and connective tissues. The space that contains pulp is called the pulp chamber.
The part of a tooth where the crown connects with the root is the neck
It is the hard connective tissue that covers the roots of a tooth
Dentin lies in between the enamel and cementum. It contains microscopic tubes responsible for transferring heat or coldness from any food consumed to the nerves in the pulp. This is why if the dentin is exposed, the tiny tubules let heat, coldness, acidity, or stickiness get to the center of a tooth, stimulating the nerves and causing sensitivity.
It is a bunch of fibrous tissues that connect the root to the socket.
The part of the pulp chamber that lies in the root of a tooth is called the root canal.
What Is Tooth Erosion?
If any of the mentioned layers of a tooth are damaged, it will lead to dental problems- the most commonly damaged bit of them is the enamel. Because its function is to protect our teeth, if it’s eroded (suffers wear and tear), all the other cells will be left vulnerable to all sorts of abrasions. Therefore keeping a tooth first defense (aka the enamel) against all damaging elements healthy is essential.
Doing so is only possible if you have some idea about the factors that can lead to enamel deterioration, commonly called erosion. To educate you on the potential causes of enamel erosion, here is a quick rundown for you.
Causes Of Tooth Erosion
- The primary cause of tooth erosion has food with high acidic content. Foods and drinks that have too much acid can degrade the outermost layer of our teeth. Saliva in our mouths works to balance the ph. and cancel out the acidic effect. However, excessive amounts of such eatables and poor oral hygiene can eventually lead to enamel erosion.
- Xerostomia- a low flow of saliva that leads to a dry mouth. Naturally, with a lack of saliva to neutralize acidity in the mouth and wash away bacteria, a person’s teeth are more likely to get damaged.
- Medicinal intake. Some medicine groups, such as antihistamines, aspirins, etc., can also cause enamel erosion.
- Gastrointestinal problems such as GERD- acid reflux and heartburn. Such conditions bring acids from the stomach towards the mouth, which can eventually cause enamel degradation.
- Aside from the mentioned conditions that can erode our teeth, over-consuming the following edibles can cause similar damage.
- Soft drinks
- Sour candies and jellies
- Fruit drinks or packaged juices
- Foods containing high levels of citric acid
Environmental Factors Responsible For Enamel Erosion
Many people habitually grind their teeth or clench their jaw when nervous or angry, causing friction between the teeth. Little do they know that such tooth-to-tooth friction can degrade the enamel even if they don’t consume the food mentioned above items frequently.
Chewing on bottle caps, pencils, or other hard objects damages the teeth. Similarly, improper flossing or brutal/forceful brushing can be responsible for tooth erosion.
Like bones, our teeth are also susceptible to sustaining injuries in the form of cracks. Understandably, such an occurrence causes erosion.
Similar to metals, when the outer calcified part of our teeth is exposed to acids frequently in the form of alcohol, soft drinks, or induced vomiting if someone has an eating disorder, it begins to erode, barring the inner layers.
Plaque is the tacky yellowish layer of food particles, bacteria, and saliva that spreads along the swath of a person’s teeth, especially if someone’s oral cleansing is unsatisfactory. Typically, it is considered a dental issue, but it’s not associated with enamel erosion. However, in some cases, it can be the cause of tooth erosion.
More often than not, the bacteria in the sticky film over our teeth converts the starch we consume into acids. As a result, the produced traces of acid eat away the outer layer of the teeth.
Symptoms of Tooth Erosion
Like all physiological and dental conditions, enamel erosion exhibits symptoms so that s person can visit the dentist promptly and get the necessary treatment.
Stains on teeth are often attributed to excessive use of certain substances. Alcohol and tea are examples of why many people don’t take discoloration as a possible sign of enamel erosion. But in a majority of the cases, discoloration on a tooth is a symptom of degradation.
Cracks And Chips
One of the most noticeable signs of enamel erosion is cracked or chipped teeth. As already mentioned, the outer part of a tooth is its first line of defense. So if that’s damaged, the tooth is bound to sustain injuries – what could be a more obvious manifestation of such damage if not cracks and chips? When the corners of your teeth turn edgy and unevenly pointy, know that it’s the beginning of chipped/cracked teeth.
Sensitivity is a widespread issue that is looked at as a separate dental concern. Still, it comes under the umbrella of enamel erosion. When certain foods, particularly sugary items and those with high temperatures, send an indescribable sensation through your teeth, know that your teeth have entered the first phase of degradation.
When tooth erosion gets worse, the level of sensitivity a person feels can become unbearable, often leaving them frozen in place.
Cupping: chewing and biting are everyday functions of our teeth, and doing so shouldn’t lead to dents in the enamel. But when indentations on teeth begin to appear due to biting or chewing, it’s primarily because of erosion.
Once a tooth begins to erode, it is more likely to be followed by tooth decay and cavities. Naturally, when the outermost layer of your tooth is there for protection, all kinds of bacteria will penetrate the anatomical crown.
At first, cavities may seem harmless and painless, but they can turn into severe infections or abscesses over time. Therefore, getting them treated from the start is crucial to saving the tooth from further damage.
Tips To Prevent Enamel Erosion
Research shows that enamel erosion affects approximately 41% of the population in the United States Of America. That is close to half the strength of people residing in the country. As bleak as it may seem, the reported stats on enamel degradation can go down with a bit of preemptive care.
Here is an in-depth overview of how to prevent tooth erosion?
Avoid Consuming Acidic Eatables
Acidic is detrimental to enamel health; therefore, it’s advisable to reduce the intake of foods with high acidic value. Avoid adding too much lemon or other sour ingredients to your meals. Likewise, don’t indulge in sodas and alcohol. When you are craving a tangy taste, be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water later.
Use A Straw To Drink Soda/Alcohol
While the best approach to prevent enamel erosion is eliminating fizzy drinks, doing so can be difficult. So. When you want to sip on a hard or soft beverage, use a straw as it will reduce the exposure between your teeth and acid.
Finish A Meal With Diary
When you have something acidic during a meal, try to finish it with a dairy product like cheese or a glass of milk to cancel out the consumed acid.
Drink as much water as you can during the day, especially if you often have a dry mouth, as it will increase your saliva content and improve the flow in your mouth.
Chew Gums In Free Time
Chewing gums are excellent at boosting saliva production, which is beneficial in neutralizing the acidity in the mouth. Try to use gums without sugar because excessive sugar is harmful to your teeth.
Use Fluoride-Rich Toothpaste
Fluoride is known to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the chances of erosion. Therefore, use toothpaste with high fluoride content.
Keep Your Snacking In Check
If you tend to snack quite a lot throughout the day, you should check what you’re eating. Apart from that, try to rinse your mouth after every snacking session.
Choose Your Toothbrush Wisely
People often pick out a toothbrush with stiff bristles, assuming it will clean their teeth better, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. A hard toothbrush can damage the outer layer of your teeth and increase your chances of suffering from enamel erosion significantly.
Use a soft tool to brush your teeth and be gentle with the force you apply- as forceful brushing can damage teeth.
Check With Your Dentist
Some dental procedures can be considered to strengthen your defenses against tooth erosion, such as applying a sealant over the teeth. However, you cannot decide to get one out of the blue; you need to consult your dentist and get their approval before getting any procedure done.
Seek Help If You Have an ED or Alcoholism
Eating disorders and alcoholism are non-dental conditions that can be a significant contributors to enamel erosion. If you struggle with such an illness, seek professional help because that is bad for your mental well-being and damages your oral health.
How to Treat Tooth Erosion?
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, tooth enamel doesn’t contain living cells, so it cannot repair or regenerate itself. Therefore, external corrective measures are needed to fix an eroded tooth. However, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for it; every case is handled differently based on the level of degradation.
Suppose the damage is significant to the point where a tooth has been thoroughly exposed. In that case, a dentist might suggest putting a crown or veneer over the affected enamel. If you think you need a remedy for your eroded tooth, it’s best to consult your dentist right away before the problem worsens.
Although easily preventable, enamel erosion continues to be a prevalent dental concern in America. If you don’t want to another statistic, be sure to take precautionary measures and visit your dentist often. And when you do, don’t forget to ask all the questions so that you can keep your teeth in tiptop condition.
And suppose you are based in Sacramento, California. In that case, you are in luck because we, at SoftTouch, we provide outstanding dental services. So, feel free to drop by our clinic or reach out to us to make an appointment.