Cavities shouldn’t be your only concern when protecting your teeth. One of the greatest threats to your long-term dental health is tooth erosion, a form of permanent damage that happens when the enamel of your tooth is softened and worn away by the acid in food and drinks.
Over time, enamel loss causes tooth sensitivity and discoloration. It also makes your teeth much more vulnerable to decay. Even healthy teeth can be at risk of acid erosion and, once lost, enamel can’t be restored.
Here’s everything your family dentist wants you to know about what causes tooth erosion and what you can do to protect your teeth against enamel loss.
Your teeth are made up of four layers:
Tooth enamel is the hardest mineral substance in your entire body and stronger than your bones — but that doesn’t mean it’s invulnerable. Enamel is just a couple of millimeters thick and, once damaged, will not grow back. The most common type of damage to the enamel is acid erosion which happens when acids in food and drinks eat away at this mineral layer of your teeth.
The most common cause of enamel loss is acid exposure. Acids slowly eat away at the mineral substance of your teeth and strip them of their primary defense against cavities and decay.
Saliva helps keep your teeth strong by coating teeth in calcium and other minerals while diluting corrosive acids. However, too much acid can overwhelm this defense mechanism.
While most acid in the mouth comes from food and drink, there are many factors that can increase acid production that damages enamel such as:
Researchers are still learning more about other factors that contribute to acid production and enamel loss. For example, when teeth become very worn or you experience a lot of stress, the acid production in your mouth may increase.
Dental erosion only gets worse with time. The best thing you can do for your long-term dental health is taking steps today to protect your teeth against enamel loss. Your dentist in Scottsdale can help you better understand your risk of acid erosion and recommend solutions to protect your teeth. This may include changing your diet or even changing your oral care regimen.
The following tips from your family dentist can help you guard against acid erosion.
You may already have some degree of acid erosion on your teeth. By the age of 13, more than one-third of children in the U.S. have acid erosion, and adults don’t fare better. The good news is there are strategies to prevent further enamel loss once you recognize the problem.
The best way to find out if you already have enamel loss is by visiting a low-cost dentist for regular appointments. You can also watch for common signs of acid erosion.
One of the leading side effects of acid erosion is tooth sensitivity. This happens when the protective enamel coating of the teeth is worn away. At first, you may notice your teeth hurting when you eat or drink hot or cold foods and beverages or when you brush your teeth. In the later stages of enamel loss, your teeth may become very painfully sensitive.
As the enamel on your teeth wears away, your teeth may appear discolored or yellow. This is actually because you are seeing the yellow layer of dentin beneath the enamel.
Smooth, shiny spots on your teeth are an indication that your teeth are losing minerals
When the protective enamel begins to wear down, your teeth become more vulnerable to tooth decay.
Your teeth become thinner as your enamel wears down. This can make your teeth look transparent or even dull as they lose their shine and thickness.
Worn enamel can create rough edges on your teeth which increases the risk of cracks or chips.
While lost tooth enamel can’t be restored, cosmetic dentistry does offer solutions to help treat acid eroded teeth to stop sensitivity, improve the appearance of your teeth, and reduce the risk of further damage.
One of the most common solutions for mild enamel erosion is dental bonding. This affordable treatment involves applying a tooth-colored material similar to enamel to the surface of your tooth which is molded and polished.
When a tooth is seriously damaged by lost enamel, the best solution may be a dental crown. This involves covering all of the tooth with a cap or cover which restores the tooth’s function, shape, and size while strengthening the tooth.
Concerned about the effects of acid erosion? Schedule an appointment with your family dentist at Trinity Dental Care to learn more about what you can do to protect your teeth from the effects of enamel loss.