Enamel erosion is easily identified, especially by a practiced holistic dentist. But what does enamel erosion really mean if you’re suffering from it, and can this issue be prevented?
Understanding Tooth Enamel
Enamel covers the part of the tooth that is visible outside of your gums and enamel also conceals the dentin, the inside part of your tooth that is responsible for your tooth color. Some people have pure white dentin which gives them the coveted white teeth. Other people may have yellowish, off-white, or even grey dentin.
This coloring is intrinsic – inside – of the tooth, so if you’re considering teeth whitening to brighten up your teeth, you’ll need a different solution. Whitening repairs surface – extrinsic – tooth stains. The translucency of natural tooth enamel reveals the shade of your dentin and changing that appearance requires cosmetic dentistry in the form of porcelain veneers or other smile makeover procedures.
Enamel protects your teeth from the hard work they do all day biting and chewing food, and also prevents you from being affected by hot or cold food temperatures. Enamel can, however, chip or crack. And, of course, it can also erode, which is when the enamel is worn away on your teeth, never to return.
Causes of Enamel Erosion
Enamel erosion can have any number of causes, including:
- Acid reflux (GERD)
- Frequent vomiting from bulimia or alcoholism
- Genetic makeup
- Excessive soft drink consumption
- Dry mouth or low saliva production
- Diet high in sugar and starch
- Highly acidic fruit drinks
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Physical wear and tear from teeth grinding, stress, or biting on hard inedible objects (like pens or pencils)
The high levels of acids in your mouth, whether from something you’ve consumed, medical issues, or simple DNA, can all contribute to enamel erosion. And teeth are not self-repairing. Once affected by erosion, you’ll need cosmetic or restorative dentistry to repair the problem.
Side Effects of Enamel Erosion
If tooth enamel is steadily worn away for whatever reason, that leaves teeth far more susceptible to the development of cavities and, if not tended to quickly, an abscess or infection. The signs of enamel erosion can include:
- Discoloration of teeth
- Severe tooth sensitivity, especially to hot, cold, or sweet foods
- Cupping, which are surface indentations on the teeth
- Cracked, chipped, jagged, or irregular tooth edges
Preventing and Repairing Enamel Erosion
Maintaining good preventive dental care and seeing your holistic dentist every six months is the first step to preventing enamel erosion. But you can also protect your teeth by working to improve saliva production and eliminating highly acidic foods from your diet, limiting snacking so your teeth are not constantly exposed to bacteria and acids, drinking more water, and chewing gum with no sugar.
In some cases, your dentist make recommend sealants or bonding to prevent enamel erosion and tooth decay and improve the appearance of your teeth. In this situation, teeth must be examined carefully first before sealants are applied to ensure that decay is not trapped in between. Significant enamel erosion, however, may be met with a cosmetic dentistry solution like a porcelain crown or series of porcelain veneers.
Concerned that your tooth enamel is eroding? Schedule your personal consultation with Dr. Yolanda Cintron at Fort Lauderdale’s International Center for Dental Excellence to find out what your options are.