Erosion of Tooth Enamel
Serving Northern Virginia including Oakton, Fairfax, Reston, Alexandria, Arlington and Washington D.C.
Enamel is the outer shell that covers the teeth and is the hardest tissue in the human body. Enamel protects the teeth as we go through a daily existence of chewing, biting, grinding, and more. It keeps the teeth from being damaged by temperature extremes or chemicals. However, even though it is extremely hard and resilient, it can still crack or chip. When this happens, the damage is done for good since there are no living cells in enamel. Therefore, the body cannot repair damaged enamel.
Causes of Erosion of Enamel
Erosion is typically the result of acid eating away or wearing down the enamel. Causes of this include:
- Excessive consumption of soft drinks and fruit drinks
- Diet high in starches and sugar
- Low salivary flow or dry mouth
- Acid reflux disease (GERD) and other gastrointestinal problems
- Medications like aspirin and antihistamines
Environmental factors such as friction, corrosion, and daily wear and tear can also cause erosion of tooth enamel. So even if you eat right, avoid sugars, don’t regularly take medication, and are generally in good health, erosion of tooth enamel is still going to happen.
Plaque, which forms between the teeth, inside the pits of the molars, and around fillings and at the base of the tooth and gum meets may also cause erosion. This is because the bacteria in plaque will sometimes change food starch into acid. The acid then begins to break down enamel within hours. Over time the pits created in the enamel grow in size.
Symptoms of Tooth Erosion
Signs the enamel on your teeth is eroding include:
- Cracks and chips – edges of the teeth become more jagged or irregular
- Cupping – indentations begin to appear on the surface of the teeth
- Discoloration – teeth may appear yellow as more dentin is exposed
- Rounded – the teeth appear smooth and shiny in spots
- Sensitivity – eating sweets or foods that are very hot or cold in temperature may be painful. If the pain is severe, the enamel may be completely eroded
There are several things you can do to prevent erosion of your enamel beyond daily brushing and flossing. This includes:
- Eliminate foods and beverages high in acid from your diet, including soda, juices and citrus fruits. Immediately rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking products like this
- Avoid snacking throughout the day. The mouth is acidic for several hours after eating foods high in starches and acids, so it’s best to avoid snacks or brush your teeth as soon as you can
- Drink more water throughout the day to increase the volume of saliva and prevent dry mouth
- Chew sugar-free gum between eating meals. Saliva production is boosted, which helps strengthen the teeth and reduces the presence of acid found in food and drinks. Choose gum with xylitol
You should also speak to Dr. Chung about daily fluoride treatments or sealants. There are other treatments and procedures he can perform that can keep your enamel from eroding.
If you are interested in stopping the erosion of tooth enamel, please contact Dr. Chung at Softouch Dental Care. Softouch Dental Care serves Oakton, Tyson’s Corner, Reston, Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia areas.