Tooth enamel erosion occurs when the thin outer layer of teeth, known as enamel, begins to wear and break down. Despite being the hardest tissue in the human body, enamel can be damaged over time, leaving the underlying dentin layer vulnerable. With its vital role in protecting teeth from daily wear and tear, preserving tooth enamel is essential for maintaining healthy teeth.
This includes things such as chewing, biting, crunching, and tooth grinding. Even though tooth enamel is super strong, it can chip and crack over time with use. Tooth enamel also acts as an insulator from potentially painful temperature changes or even harsh chemicals (acids). Tooth enamel does not have the ability to repair itself like a broken bone can.
When a tooth chips or fractures, the damage is typically irreversible. Unlike the second layer of teeth known as dentin, which contains living cells and has the ability to heal, tooth enamel lacks this restorative capacity. As a result, a chipped or fractured tooth is much like a broken bone that cannot mend itself. Seeking prompt dental care is crucial to preventing further damage and restoring the tooth’s form and function.
Causes of Enamel Erosion
Maintaining healthy calcium levels is crucial for strong teeth and bones, as you likely already know. However, when calcium is lost from your teeth, your enamel can weaken and become damaged. What is the leading cause of calcium loss? Acidic conditions in the mouth can arise from dietary factors or unrelated health issues. Weakened enamel is highly susceptible to tooth decay, and combining acid and sugar can accelerate enamel erosion. Protect your teeth by maintaining a healthy diet and practicing good oral hygiene.
Nutrition, as you can imagine, plays quite a significant role in tooth enamel erosion issues in both children and adults. Some common food items that contribute to enamel erosion include:
- Alcohol:Consuming alcoholic beverages can have a dual impact on oral health, as they can both dehydrate the body and contain high levels of sugar. Wine, a popular alcoholic drink, can also be quite acidic and contribute to dry mouth. To protect your teeth, it’s important to drink alcohol in moderation and to rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic beverages.
- Fruit Juice: Fruit juice is often considered healthy. However, some fruit juices can be like battery acid in terms of how acidic they are. Lemon, orange, grapefruit, apple, and cranberry juice are all very high in acid.
- Citrus Fruit:While fresh citrus fruits like oranges, limes, and lemons are rich in vitamin C, they can also contribute to tooth erosion over time. Similarly, although not technically a citrus fruit, tomatoes are highly acidic and can also wear down tooth enamel. To protect your teeth, it’s important to consume acidic foods in moderation and to rinse your mouth with water afterward to help neutralize the acid.
- Sour Candy: The acidity in these candies will weaken your enamel, allowing the sugar to stick much more easily. Add in a gumminess, and you are looking at one of the most damaging types of candy.
- Carbonated Drinks:When it comes to protecting tooth enamel, soda is among the worst beverages to consume. In addition to being high in sugar, carbonated sodas are also highly acidic, putting teeth at risk for erosion. Even diet and sugar-free carbonated drinks can contribute to enamel erosion due to their acidity levels. To protect your teeth, limit your consumption of sodas and other acidic beverages and rinse your mouth with water afterward.
- Sports Drinks: Sports drinks are nearly as bad as sodas due to their high sugar content. Sports drinks can also have added ingredients that are acidic in nature, like citric and phosphoric acid.
Health issues can also play a major role in tooth enamel erosion, especially those involving the digestive system. Some common health conditions that studies have linked to tooth enamel erosion include:
- GERD/Acid Reflux: Your dentist can often notice that you have issues with acid reflux without being told. GERD and chronic acid reflux can cause serious enamel erosion, particularly on the inside back of your teeth.
- Eating Disorders: Bulimia and anorexia can cause permanent damage to tooth enamel but in different ways. Enamel erosion caused by bulimia is linked to the teeth’ exposure to stomach acid from vomiting. Enamel erosion caused by anorexia is linked to the depletion of minerals in the body, primarily calcium.
- Diabetes: is an inflammatory condition that can have a significant impact on your overall systemic health. In addition to its impact on the body, diabetes can also contribute to a range of oral health issues, including enamel erosion, tooth decay, tooth loss, and periodontal disease. By properly managing diabetes and maintaining good oral hygiene habits, individuals can help reduce their risk of these complications and protect their oral and overall health.
- TMJD: Temporomandibular Joint Disorders or TMJD relates to issues involving the jaw joints and muscles of the jaw. Symptoms of TMD include teeth grinding, clenching, abnormal chewing, and pain. This disorder can cause physical damage to the tooth enamel layer in the form of excessive wear, chipping, and even cracked teeth.
Tooth Erosion Symptoms
While tooth enamel erosion is seen as a wearing down of the enamel, it can also cause tooth sensitivity to hot and cold and even possibly a toothache.
The most common symptoms of tooth enamel erosion include:
- Tooth pain and sensitivity
- Discoloration in the form of yellowing
- Transparency, especially around the edges of the front teeth
- Small cracks or divots on the surface of the teeth
- An odd rounded appearance to the teeth
- A roughed-up appearance on the tooth’s surface
Enamel erosion and tooth decay are both prevalent dental issues. If you experience any discomfort or sensitivity in your teeth, it’s important to seek dental care promptly to address these symptoms before they worsen.
Contact Dr. Perrone today to schedule an appointment and keep your teeth healthy and pain-free.
Tooth Enamel Erosion Treatment
Patients with tooth enamel erosion typically exhibit symptoms such as tooth sensitivity or dissatisfaction with their smile. During a dental examination, your dentist will be able to assess the extent of the damage and determine the best course of treatment to address your concerns. With a personalized treatment plan, Dr. Perrone can help you restore your oral health and achieve the beautiful, confident smile you deserve.
The most common enamel erosion treatment options include:
- Dental fillings – used for minor enamel erosion and tooth decay. This treatment will often be localized in one small area.
- Dental Crowns for major tooth decay spots that are too large for a dental filling
- Dental bonding to protect outer surfaces of multiple teeth
- Porcelain veneers for more permanent protection of multiple teeth
Depending on the type of enamel erosion present and how much damage has been done, your dentist may need to perform more extensive treatment such as a root canal or even a tooth extraction. If root canal therapy is necessary, your dentist will likely recommend a dental crown. In the event of a tooth extraction, you will have options for a dental bridge or a dental implant.
How Can I Prevent Tooth Enamel Erosion?
Tooth enamel erosion is a permanent condition. You have the ability to manage it but not reverse it.
Tooth Enamel Erosion Prevention Tips
- Reduce consumption of sugary, acidic, and/or carbonated beverages. Switch to unsweetened tea, water, and other options instead.
- Drinking water when eating citrus fruits and other acidic foods to help rinse away the juice and other particles.
- Chewing xylitol gum frequently. Xylitol, known to inhibit bacterial growth, stimulate saliva, and clean acid residue off teeth.
- Pairing acidic foods with other meals to reduce acidity levels in the mouth. For example, if you enjoy grapefruit at breakfast, consider having yogurt, as well.
- Maintain Good Dental Hygiene at home and visit your dentist on a regular schedule.
- Rinsing your mouth after having anything high in acid content. But be sure not to brush right away, as your enamel will be soft. Brushing on softened enamel can actually cause more damage, so wait at least an hour.
- You’ll naturally want to brush right away after vomiting or experiencing acid reflux but resist the urge for the same reason mentioned above. Rinsing thoroughly and waiting at least half an hour can really help protect your teeth.
- Consider using a straw when drinking juice or soda, and swallow immediately rather than swishing it around your mouth.
- Using a dentist-recommended toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush at least twice a day and floss after big meals. Consider not rinsing with water after brushing, so the residual fluoride is left behind.
Looking to transform your smile? Schedule a complimentary cosmetic consultation with Marielaina Perrone DDS today by calling (702) 458-2929. Our team is dedicated to helping you achieve the smile of your dreams in Summerlin, Henderson, and Las Vegas, NV. Contact us now!
Marielaina Perrone, DDS, is a highly experienced and dedicated dental professional passionate about delivering exceptional patient care. With over 20 years of experience in the dental industry, Dr. Perrone is widely regarded as a leading authority in her field, with a reputation for providing innovative solutions and personalized care to her patients.