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, enamel 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.
Visiting a general dentist regularly will remove stains and keep your teeth healthy. You also should keep in mind what causes erosion of tooth enamel in those months you are not seeing the dentist to maintain a healthy smile.
Causes of Tooth Enamel Erosion
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 occur.
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 Enamel 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
What Can I Do to Protect My Enamel?
There are several things you can do to prevent erosion of tooth 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
Are There Any Treatments That Can Help Protect My Enamel?
Several in-office dental treatments help prevent enamel erosion. These treatments also aid in safeguarding your teeth from other problems, such as cavities, sensitivity, and even discoloration. Our dentist will gladly make recommendations based on your needs.
The first treatment worth considering is a fluoride application. Fluoride plays a crucial role in supporting healthy tooth enamel. Our dentist will apply a concentrated version of it to your teeth.
The second treatment that can help protect your tooth enamel is called a dental sealant. A sealant is a thin coating of plastic or other materials. It is painted on the chewing surfaces of your teeth to form a shield over the enamel. Children and adults can enjoy the benefits of sealant treatments. Pursuing these treatments as early as possible is in your best interest.
Will Teeth Whitening Damage My Enamel?
Direct-to-consumer teeth whitening products that bear the ADA Seal of Acceptance are generally safe when used exactly as directed. They meet standards for safety and effectiveness.
If you are concerned about the potential side effects of teeth whitening, talk to our dentist. We offer in-office whitening that works better than what you can buy over the counter. And because your treatment will be administered by a trained professional, the risk of enamel damage is low.
Ultimately, the biggest threat to your enamel is do-it-yourself whitening. Unfortunately, ingredients like abrasive baking soda, charcoal, and acidic fruits can do more harm than good.
Is There Anything I Can Do for My Enamel Once It’s Begun To Erode?
Unfortunately, you cannot reverse enamel erosion. Because tooth enamel has no living cells, it can’t grow back after it is damaged. The good news is that enamel erosion happens slowly. So if you can catch it early, you can stop it from getting worse.
What Should I Do if I Believe My Enamel Is Eroding Away?
If you suspect that you are experiencing enamel erosion, contact our dentist. He can evaluate the condition of your teeth and suggest the appropriate steps to protect them from further harm.
Taking care of your teeth at home will go a long way. You may be instructed to cut back on soda, fruit drinks, and sugary or starchy foods. Similarly, you will likely need to improve your dental hygiene routine. In some cases, professional dental treatment may be necessary.
Why Should I Trust Softouch Dental To Help Protect My Teeth?
Dr. Michael Chung is a skilled dentist with over 20 years of experience. He not only knows how to recognize enamel erosion, but he can also recommend a variety of treatments and lifestyle changes to prevent it from getting worse. We only see a few patients each day to allow for ample time to discuss your concerns and develop a custom plan for achieving your goals.
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 preventing erosion of tooth enamel, please call Softouch Dental Care today at 703-319-6990 to schedule your next appointment. Our dentist serves Vienna, Oakton, Tysons Corner, Reston, Arlington, and Fairfax areas of Northern Virginia.