Tooth enamel is an important component in the structure of all healthy teeth. It is a hard, semi-clear, outer tooth layer that protects from erosion caused by everyday use. Enamel also prevents sensitivity from hot and cold temperatures as we eat and drink different things. Sugars, acids, dyes, and chemicals all damage teeth in a variety of ways; one of those is destroying enamel.
It is a fact of life that our teeth are used more than most parts of our body. Considering we must eat and drink every day, protecting teeth from short-term and long-term problems is a lifelong journey, not a sprint. Eating and drinking items with high acidity will soften teeth and remove mineral content. If the acid is persistent; either from dietary habits, acid reflux, or something else; your mouth doesn’t have time to repair itself. You can brush and wash little pieces of enamel away when this occurs. Over time this will compound until it is a problem.
When Tooth Enamel Erodes Patients Suffer
Even if you have strict dental hygiene practices, your enamel will wear down. If the shell erodes enough you will start to experience sensitivity to hot and cold substances. Next is pain when chewing, chips & cracks, cavities, and more. When enamel is removed it leaves small porous gaps where it once was. If it continues to progress, these holes will turn into cavities and the underlying nerves will be exposed. This is one cause of pain.
What Causes Enamel Erosion & Decay?
No one can avoid all tooth enamel erosion. It just isn’t possible if you’re eating and drinking normally. Let’s take a look at the biggest culprits:
- Sugary foods & drinks. Bad bacteria in our bodies and mouth love sugar and produce volatile acids to break down that sugar so it can be used as fuel for the bacteria. Unfortunately, those acids also damage enamel and other portion of the mouth & gums. If you don’t brush and floss normally it will be worse.
- Chronic dry mouth is problematic because there is little or no saliva to wash away foods and acids. Stay hydrated!
- Sour food, candies, and drinks. Sour taste is caused by acids so if you’re eating sour things you’re eating high-acid foods or beverages and this is awful for enamel.
- Heartburn, acid reflux, GERD, or other stomach-related issues. These conditions increase acid damage to teeth.
- Certain dietary supplements or medicines are high in acid
- Drug abuse, alcoholism, and eating disorders often lead to a higher rate of vomiting that forces stomach acids into the teeth.
- Chronic teeth grinding will wear down the enamel
- Brushing and flossing too hard. You should be brushing gently as to not draw blood and it’s favored to use soft bristles over the long term.
- Smoking and other bad habits
- Skipping the dentist!
Your dentist will be able to tell you if your tooth enamel is wearing down and how to prevent it, or steps to combat pain or sensitivity (often with sensitivity kinds of toothpaste).
How Do I Know if I Have Enamel Erosion?
Ask anyone with tooth sensitivity and they’ll tell you it’s easy to figure it out. First of all, you’ll notice when hot or cold foods are causing tooth sensitivity and pain. It often starts slightly and progresses over time, especially when the underlying cause isn’t addressed.
- Pain and uncomfortable tooth sensation when chewing or eating hot and cold items
- Discolored or yellow teeth
- Cracks, dents, and holes in the teeth
- Rough, sharp, and uneven edges on teeth which are prone to chips and cracks
- Smooth stain like shiny surfaces on teeth illustrate the mineral loss
Don’t Leave Enamel Erosion Untreated
There is a real risk to tooth structures if enamel damage goes untreated and more than simply sensitive teeth (though that is still incredibly uncomfortable). Holes in teeth where enamel once was can start to form cavities. These can be unsightly but will undoubtedly lead to a good measure of pain. If a bad cavity is left untreated, it can progress until the tooth is essentially rotten. When this happens, there is no saving the tooth in any way and it will have to be extracted or “pulled”. Then you’ll be missing a tooth and your only option to replace it will be a dental implant. Dental implant surgery isn’t for everyone and only you and your dentist can determine if that will be a good fit in your treatment plan.
Key Takeaway: Do not take the health of your tooth enamel lightly. It is the barrier between your tooth, their nerves, and everything you eat and drink. Neglecting it is painful and can be costly.
For the best Dentist Near 11224 look no further than right here at Coney Island Dental. We’ve proudly served the neighborhood for over 40 years.