Tooth enamel is the toughest exterior in the human body, despite being a thin outer layer that’s designed to protect the tooth. Because there are no living cells inside of enamel, when it cracks, chips, or sustains other damages, it cannot restore itself. Understanding the different causes of tooth erosion will help individuals take better care of their teeth so they stay healthy for a lifetime.
Tooth erosion is a result of acids eating away at enamel until it wears off. Consuming anything with lots of acid, such as sodas and fruit juices, puts tooth enamel at risk of eroding if those drinks are consumed excessively. Other causes of tooth erosion include low saliva production, foods full of sugar and starch, acid reflux disease, gastrointestinal complications, and specific medications like aspirin.
There are some environmental factors that contribute to tooth erosion as well. For example, when individuals grind or clench their teeth, the friction from the teeth pressing together can lead to tooth erosion. People who suffer from bruxism are the most likely to grind their teeth unconsciously while they sleep. Individuals who constantly wake up with sore jaws should contact their dentist or doctor.
Sometimes when individuals are too aggressive while cleaning their teeth, they accidentally erode their own enamel. For example, brushing aggressively and flossing improperly are quick ways to eventually wear down the enamel.
Over time, plaque buildup can also lead to enamel erosion. When the bacteria found in plaque turns the starches from food into acid, those acids attack the enamel until it eventually wears off.
One of the first signs of tooth erosion is tooth sensitivity. When it becomes painful to consume foods with hot or cold temperatures, that is an early sign that enamel is wearing off. The more the enamel wears off, the more the second layer of the teeth, also known as dentin, is exposed. The dentin layer is more yellow in appearance, which is a sign that erosion may be occurring. If these early symptoms are ignored, tooth sensitivity becomes increasingly severe, making it extremely painful to consume certain foods. It’s important for individuals to monitor their symptoms and immediately schedule an appointment with their dentist if these symptoms persist.
The best way to avoid tooth erosion is to clean the teeth properly, maintain a nutritious diet, and attend annual dental checkups. Cleaning teeth properly means brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing once daily, and maybe using a fluoride mouthwash.
At McBride Dental, we encourage our patients to maintain their annual checkups with us so they can benefit from our preventative care services and keep their teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime. We offer thorough exams, deep cleanings, dental sealants, and more. We also offer fillings and tooth whitening services for those who may have suffered from tooth erosion. If you would like to schedule an appointment with us, call our office today at (760) 471-1003.