Tooth enamel erosion is a common dental health issue. Dental enamel is the thin external layer of the tooth and is the hardest tissue in the human body. Enamel covers the tooth crown – the visible part of the tooth. Tooth enamel helps protect your teeth from daily use such as chewing and grinding. Dental enamel also insulates the teeth from potentially painful impact of high/low temperatures and corrosive chemicals.
Sometimes coffee, tea, soda, red wine, fruit juices, and cigarettes can stain the enamel. Regular visits to our dental office for scheduled cleaning and polishing will help remove most surface stains and help your teeth stay healthy. It is important to take care of your teeth and their enamel throughout your lifetime. Unlike a broken bone that can be repaired by the body, when a tooth chips or breaks, the damage is permanent and your body cannot repair cracked enamel.
What can cause tooth enamel loss?
Chemical tooth enamel erosion happens when acid dissolves it and can be caused by:
- excessive soft drink consumption
- high sugar and starches diet
- some medications (, including aspirin and antihistamines
- dry mouth or low saliva flow
- stomach acid reflux disease and other gastrointestinal problems.
Mechanical tooth enamel erosion can be caused by friction, wear and tear, and stress, including:
- attrition or natural tooth-to-tooth friction that happens when you clench or grind your teeth
- abrasion or physical wear and tear of the tooth surface that happens as the result of brushing teeth too hard, improper flossing, or biting on hard objects
- abfraction is erosion that occurs from stress fractures and cracks from flexing or bending of the tooth.
Does plaque damage tooth enamel?
Plaque is a sticky film made up of saliva, food particles, bacteria, and other substances. Often the bacteria in plaque change food starches into acids. When this happens, the acids in plaque start to eat away at the minerals in tooth enamel, which makes it wear away and become pitted. Over time, the pits in the enamel may increase, grow in size, and cause cavities.
What are the signs of dental enamel damage?
Symptoms of tooth enamel erosion can vary, depending on the stage:
- sensitivity to some foods or temperatures
- discoloration due to higher exposure of yellower dentin
- cracks and chips as the edges of teeth become more rough
- cupping or indentations on the surface of teeth
When tooth enamel erodes, teeth become more susceptible to cavities or tooth decay. As cavities grow and penetrate deeper into the tooth, they can cause pain and/or infection.
How do you prevent tooth enamel loss?
To prevent enamel erosion and keep teeth healthy, be sure to brush, floss, and rinse with a fluoride and antiseptic mouthwash daily. See your dentist every six months for regular checkups and cleaning. You can also try the following:
- eliminate highly acidic foods and drinks from your diet or rinse your mouth with water after eating acidic foods or drinking acidic drinks
- limit snaking throughout the day, which may increase probability of tooth decay
- chew sugar-free gum with xylitol after or between meals
- drink enough water throughout the day
- use toothpaste and mouth wash high in fluoride.
How is tooth enamel erosion treated?
Treatment of tooth enamel loss depends on the problem. You can ask your dentist if sealants may be helpful in preventing enamel erosion and tooth decay. Sometimes tooth bonding is used to protect the tooth and increase cosmetic appearance. If the enamel loss is significant, your dentist may recommend covering the tooth with a crown to protect it from further decay.
You do not have to be an established River Dentistry patient to get evaluated for enamel loss or tooth decay. Our convenient Downtown Los Angeles dental office is open till 7:00 PM Monday through Friday and till 4:00 PM on Saturdays. In addition to everyday low prices, we frequently offer first time patient best in Los Angeles dental specials and discounts. Call us at 213-486-0006 or use our online appointment system to make your appointment today!