Tooth Enamel Erosion – Everything You Need to Know

What Is Tooth Enamel Erosion?

Everyone’s teeth are covered with a layer of tooth enamel, the hardest substance in the human body. When your teeth first erupt, this layer of enamel is relatively thick but as the years pass it will gradually become thinner. Enamel is translucent, but initially the layer covering your teeth is thick enough to appear opaque which is why kids’ teeth often look much whiter than adults. As the enamel thins it will expose more of the natural tooth color which is in the dentin layer just underneath.

Why Do We Need Tooth Enamel?

Tooth enamel helps to protect teeth from everyday events such as biting and chewing food. Although it is a particularly hard substance, it can still become damaged and once it is eroded or chipped then it cannot be repaired as enamel doesn’t contain any living cells. Tooth enamel is particularly useful for protecting your teeth against any sudden changes in temperature, and once it begins to erode you may notice your teeth gradually become more sensitive and even painful when you eat something very hot or cold.

Why Does Enamel Erode?

Tooth enamel erosion generally occurs as a result of teeth being exposed to large amounts of acids. You may be more at risk of tooth enamel erosion if you drink a lot of sodas, both regular and diet versions, or if you drink a lot of fruit drinks. You are more at risk of tooth enamel erosion if you have acid reflux disease or other gastrointestinal problems. Some medications can increase your risk, as can a diet which is particularly high in starches and sugars. Some people are at increased risk of tooth enamel erosion if they don’t produce enough saliva to wash away excess sugars and acids, a condition called dry mouth or xerostomia. Sometimes it is genetic as someone may have been born with a thinner layer of tooth enamel than average. People suffering from bulimia are more likely to have tooth enamel erosion as this condition regularly exposes their teeth to strong stomach acids. Quite often a dentist will be the first to notice signs of bulimia through examining a patient’s teeth.

Is Enamel Erosion Only Cased by Acid?

No, as tooth enamel can be eroded or worn down through someone having a particularly heavy bite, and it is more common in people with bruxism, a condition where they clench and grind their teeth during sleep. If you brush your teeth too hard then you can literally wear away your enamel.

How Is Enamel Erosion Treated?

The first thing to do is to book an appointment with a dentist at the Cosmetic Dentistry Center so we can assess the extent of the damage to your teeth. If your tooth enamel erosion is relatively minor then we may suggest fluoride treatments to help strengthen the enamel and if you have tooth sensitivity then using toothpaste specially formulated to treat this can help. It is important to realize that you will need to use the toothpaste for several weeks for the effects to build up and that you must continue to use it to maintain the improvements.

If the damage is more severe then we may repair the tooth with colored composite resin to replace damaged areas. An extensively damaged tooth might need to be completely covered up with a crown. There will always be something we can do to help but the sooner you seek treatment the better.

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