Enamel and Erosion
Your teeth’s enamel may be tough, but your teeth still need your help to protect them from erosion. Find out below how you can avoid problems with enamel erosion.
What is tooth enamel?
Enamel is the white looking outer covering of the tooth crown. This protective shell is the hardest tissue in the human body but it can be softened by exposure to acids.
What does tooth enamel do?
Tooth enamel protects your teeth from daily wear and tear. It also protects teeth from sensitivity to heat and cold. And, although this tissue is tough, it can chip or crack. Unfortunately, enamel can only remineralize (re-harden) to a certain degree, so it’s important to protect it from damage, and if it becomes damaged, to have Dr. Cardon repair the damage for you.
What is acid erosion of enamel?
Acid erosion occurs when acids wear away at the tooth’s enamel. When this occurs, it exposes the tooth’s inner layers, which increases sensitivity and makes the tooth more susceptible to cavities or tooth decay.
What causes acid erosion of the enamel?
Acid erosion can be caused by the following:
- Excessive soft drink consumption, especially with beverages that contain high levels of phosphoric and citric acids
- Sports and energy drinks
- Fruit drinks
- Diets high in sugar and starches
- Medical factors that damage the enamel including acid corrosion (due to conditions such as bulimia and gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD)
Damage to the enamel also can be caused by environmental factors, including friction (bruxism) and abrasion (brushing too hard).
What are the signs of enamel erosion?
The signs of erosive damage vary but may include:
- Tooth sensitivity that ranges from mild to severe when exposed to certain foods and temperatures
- Tooth discoloration
- Tooth transparency
- Cracks and chips on the edges of teeth
Another sign of erosion is indentations in the tooth’s surface. These tiny indentations may be referred to as “cupping.”
How can acid erosion of enamel be prevented?
It’s important to brush and floss teeth daily, as well as see your dentist every six months for regular checkups and cleanings. If erosion is a concern, we may recommend the following:
- Eliminate or reduce highly acidic foods and drinks from your diet.
- Avoid brushing immediately after consuming acidic foods or drinks. Acidic foods and drinks soften the enamel, which then can be damaged by the abrasive action of brushing. Wait to brush for at least 30 minutes to allow your mouth to produce enough saliva to neutralize the acidity and allow the enamel to re-harden.
- Rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods or drinks. Water helps dilute acidity in the mouth.
- If you drink acidic drinks, use a straw and don’t swish the liquid around in your mouth. (The straw pushes the liquid to the back of your mouth, reducing contact with the teeth.)
- Avoid sugary snacks
- Chew sugar-free gum between meals. Chewing gum increases saliva production.
- Drink water throughout the day.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste
Ask Dr. Cardon about whether or not you should add a fluoride mouthwash to your daily oral health care routine. For some individuals, this may be recommended.
How is enamel erosion treated?
If enamel loss is minimal, we may apply a bonding material that will protect the tooth and improve its appearance. If the enamel loss is more significant, Dr. Cardon may recommend protecting the tooth by covering it with a crown. Together we can determine the best treatment option for you at Stadium Dental Center.