Tooth decay happens to be considered amongst the most important factors when it comes to dental health. Fact, however, is that there are many other dental issues that can develop over time with your teeth and cause long term damage. Tooth Erosion is one of these problems. Although tooth erosion and tooth decay do happen to be similar in nature, tooth erosion is capable of resulting in much more extensive damage.
What is Tooth Erosion?
Tooth Erosion is the process of losing tooth enamel over time. What is enamel? It is the protective, hard coating of the tooth that does the job of protecting the sensitive dentine underneath. As the enamel begins to deteriorate and wear away, the dentine underneath is left vulnerable and can result in sensitivity and pain.
Erosion makes its way throughout the tooth surface which is left exposed to acid. Even if your teeth happen to be healthy and clean, you can still experience acid erosion. The softening caused by the acid can weaken enamel over time, making it seem dull and yellow. This can be caused either by extrinsic acids (from food or drinks) or intrinsic acids (stomach acids) finding their way to the surface of tooth enamel.
Causes Of Tooth Erosion
Tooth Erosion can be caused by a host of reasons. Some of them are:
– Environmental factors (corrosion, stress, wear and tear and friction) – Genetics (inherited conditions) – Medication (aspirin, antihistamines) – Gastrointestinal problems – Acid reflux disease (GORD) or when acidic content hits the tooth surface too often such as with frequent vomiting from alcoholism or bulimia, eating highly acidic foods, and with certain medications like vitamin C tablets or aspirin. – Diet (esp. one that is high in starches & sugar) – Dry mouth or low salivary flow (Xerostomia) – Fruit drinks (some acids in fruit drinks happen to be even more erosive than battery acid) – Physical wear and tear of the tooth surface resulting from things like chewing tobacco, biting on hard objects (such as pens, bottle caps, or fingernails), improper flossing, and brushing teeth too hard etc. – Natural tooth-to-tooth friction that can result from clenching or grinding our teeth too much – usually happening involuntary during sleep. – Excessive consumption of soft drinks (high level of citric and phosphoric acids)
What Are The Risks Involved?
Erosion of the tooth surface is caused by corrosion, stress, wear and tear, friction, or a combination of any of these actions. Since tooth enamel happens to be irreplaceable, acid erosion is a major risk to your teeth and can end you up with reduced enamel thickness and a major shift in the appearance, texture
and shape of your teeth. It will also inevitably lead your teeth to become much more sensitive. The thing with tooth erosion is that it’s not easily visible to the naked eye, and can only be properly assessed by a dentist. The dentist will gauge the effects of acid erosion on your tooth enamel and help you decide how to proceed further. Keep in mind, however, that enamel erosion cannot just be fixed by dentists, because enamel does not regenerate itself. Hence, it is integral that you deliberately take steps to keep your teeth protected, safe and healthy.
The Difference: Tooth Decay And Tooth Erosion
There’s a common misconception when it comes to the difference between tooth erosion and tooth Decay. Many people believe that tooth Decay is the only form of tooth damage they can experience. Not only can they be left unaware of facing tooth erosion over time, they also think that tooth erosion does not really require any treatment and hence end up suffering from some serious and permanent dental damage. The difference between Erosion and Decay is simple. Erosion occurs when your teeth are exposed to acidic substances on a regular basis. The loss of enamel or dentin that results from erosion is irreversible. The acid will deplete the enamel and, in the worst case scenario, erode the teeth into the substance beneath the enamel – the dentin.
Who Suffers From Tooth Erosion?
Tooth erosion is a usual dental problem amongst young children and young adults – as well as any people who are used to drinking excessive quantities of beverages that are highly acidic. These include everything from cold drinks to fruit juices and soda – all of which are already not good for the teeth because of their high sugar content. Kids who drink fruit juice often and do not drink enough water, and babies who drink fruit juices from a baby bottle, usually experience tooth erosion.
Symptoms Of Tooth Erosion
Symptoms experienced by patients can be minor to more extreme. They include: – Teeth becoming cracked or pitted. – Teeth developing too much sensitivity. – Teeth developing a wide gap. – Teeth losing their original shape due to erosion. – Teeth becoming yellow as the dentin gets exposed.
The treatment for tooth erosion can be effective and eliminating certain symptoms but cannot possibly reverse the whole situation as tooth enamel is not regenerated by your body. Once the tooth enamel is lost, it can’t be replaced in a natural way but further loss can be prevented and limited with the help of a strict remineralisation regime. This will also eliminate any need for any further treatment.
Moreover, preventive dentistry like professional cleaning and regular brushing can help limit/prevent tooth erosion.
If you’re looking to target the cosmetic appearance of your teeth, you can have fillings placed. If the loss of enamel is too significant, your dentist may cover your teeth with a crown – hence preventing any further decay in the tooth.
If you notice even the mildest form of tooth erosion on yourself or identify with any of the root causes (overconsumption of soft drinks or taking up any concerning medication), make sure to consult a dentist and take steps immediately to control the erosion before it gets too significant.
Hope this article gives better idea about tooth erosion. Although if you still have any questions to ask, me and my colleagues at CBC Dental Studio will be happy to answer them.
Take care of your smile...
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