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Enamel Erosion: How it Affects Your Teeth?

August 15, 2022

Food habits matter a lot! 

Eating and drinking the right foods & beverages and the way they are consumed is important not only for your overall health but also for your oral health.

Consuming too much acid in drinks and foods can corrode the dental enamel which forms the outside layer of your teeth, exposing the dentin that lies underneath.

Recent studies have proved that there is a rampant increase in the cases of dental erosion, making prevention more important than ever.

What is Enamel Erosion? 

Tooth Enamel is made of minerals like calcium and phosphate, along with bone and dentin. This enamel helps to prevent tooth decay and cavities.

Enamel or Dental erosion is a term used for the loss of the teeth due to acids in the foods you eat or drink, or from the acids that come up from the stomach, washing away the hard substance that makes up the teeth, leading to the loss of tooth surface.

The tooth surface can also be softened due to these acids, making them prone to wearing away by abrasion or teeth grinding.

This is also known as acid wear or erosive tooth wear. Bacteria that accumulate in the mouth can also lead to dental erosion.

Once gone, there is no way to get the enamel or bone back without replacing the tooth entirely.

Types of Dental Erosion 

1. Intrinsic Erosion

This is caused due to gastric acid & acid regurgitation due to medical or psychological issues. Many strong acids, used to digest food, are present in the stomach. These stomach acids can enter the mouth due to vomiting and acid reflux.

Being very strong, these juices can cause significant damage to the teeth, especially in people with bulimia, anorexia, morning sickness, or reflux.

2. Extrinsic Erosion

This is caused by dietary acids from what we eat and drink. Acidic things usually taste good. 

Common foods & drinks containing high levels of acid are: 

  • Soft drinks including the sugar-free drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, oranges, etc
  • Kombucha
  • Drinks or teas that are lemon flavored
  • Fruit-flavored lollies and candies
  • Fruit juices 
  • Vitamin C tablets
  • Vinegar
  • Alcoholic Beverages 

Food acids often added to processed foods and drinks can be seen by checking the ingredient list of foods & drinks.

As the ingredients are listed in order of their amount in the food, the closer any food acids are to the start of the list, the more will be acid in the product.

A dental professional can guide you more about the care to be taken while making a choice. 

What are the Symptoms of Enamel Erosion?

Several things can be a sign of wearing down of enamel on the teeth:

  • Teeth becoming worn down further
  • Teeth become discolored because of the enamel wearing away and the dentin being exposed
  • Wearing away the enamel can cause teeth to be sensitive to touch, air, food bite, and acid exposure.
  • The front teeth may look transparent at the edges.

Also Read: How are Oral Health and Heart Health Connected?

What are the Complications of Dental Erosion?

Untreated enamel erosion can lead to loss of the surface of the tooth and tooth structure which can lead to complicated and long dental treatment which may include fillings, veneers, crowns, and even root canal treatment.

Dr. Sheena Gaur a specialist dentist at Kirkland Premier Dentistry says that any warning signs of dental erosion warrant immediate attention, expert opinion, and rectification.

What Changes Can Be Made to Improve Your Teeth? 

Your dentist can guide you about the steps you need to take to lessen dental erosion. 

There are a few aspects you may need to discuss with your dentist to assess the situation of your teeth. These may include:

  1. The time span you have been suffering from enamel erosion
  2. Specifying the frequency of your intake of acidic foods
  3. Establish if you suffer from gastric reflux, regurgitation, or any eating disorders.
  4. Identifying the teeth which need to be replaced by cosmetic restorations.

There are a few measures that can be taken to prevent dental erosion, such as:

  • Eliminate or at least limit the consumption of acidic foods and drinks as they are the main cause of dental erosion.
  • Placing sealants or bonding agents may be recommended to reduce the advancement of erosion.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste and drink fluoridated water instead of acidic soft drinks or juice.
  • Eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet. A discussion with a nutritionist can help you with your dietary assessment and in reducing acid intake.
  • Seeking medication for managing reflux or vomiting.
  • Avoid chewing vitamin C tablets and, take vitamin C supplements that can be swallowed whole.

If you do eat or drink anything acidic, don’t leave it sitting in your mouth for a long period of time and neutralize the acid by:

  • Rinsing the mouth with water or a fluoride mouth rinse
  • Rinsing the mouth with a sodium bicarbonate mouth rinse (one teaspoon of baking soda added to a glass of water)
  • Consuming dairy products.

Wear down of the tooth can also be avoided by:

  • Using a soft-bristled toothbrush with toothpaste containing fluoride.
  • Brushing the teeth thoroughly but gently
  • Wearing a custom-made dental splint or night guard, if you have a habit of grinding your teeth at night.

Tooth Erosion and Saliva 

Saliva is extremely vital in not only keeping your mouth feeling comfortable but in also helping to prevent erosion. An integral part of mineralization, Saliva not only prevents dry mouth but also contains phosphate and calcium.

Your dentist may recommend you to chew a sugar-free chewing gum after meals to promote the flow of saliva to preserve your tooth enamel.

Probiotics 

Probiotics can help in remineralization. Using the strains that are naturally produced in the mouth is important as that way you can replace the good bacteria without introducing strains that may prove potentially harmful.

The probiotics that are known to be helpful in oral health and remineralization include:

  • Bifidobacterium
  • Reuteri
  • Rhamnosus
  • Salivarius 

Probiotics can be consumed in supplement form also and certain yogurt brands also contain probiotics. Your dentist can adequately guide you about the role of probiotics to preserve your tooth enamel.

Our efficient team at Kirkland Premier Dentistry believes in providing proper guidelines to our patients. Keeping in mind that most people put off their oral health due to their busy schedule on weekdays, our dental office is open on Saturdays too.

What is the Treatment for Dental Erosion?

The dentist can guide you about the following treatment measures to remineralize teeth and help stop demineralization.  

The lost surface of the tooth due to demineralization may need to be substituted with fillings or crowns. Visiting your dental professional every six months is extremely important to identify early signs of dental erosion.

This way the dentist can work on preventing further dental erosion and tooth wear, after establishing the reason behind it.

Takeaway 

Our teeth are exposed to many elements every day, making tooth erosion inevitable. Teeth are put through a lot of wear and tear ranging from food and drinks to saliva and bacteria.

Though `human teeth are built to withstand these elements, too much demineralization can subsequently wear them down.

Dr. Sheena Gaur stresses the need to be regular not only with your oral care but also with your dental appointments, to remineralize your teeth and stop any existing demineralization. 

Kirkland Premier Dentistry is reputed to have one of the most experienced and trained staff. Our Proactive staff is on top of things at all times, helping several patients with their oral health every day. Our dental office is also open on Saturdays for your convenience.

Book an appointment now.

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