A tooth consists of 3 layers, which include the pulp, dentin and enamel. The pulp is the inner layer that houses the blood vessels and nerve, the dentin is the middle layer that contains the bulk of tooth structure, and the enamel is the outer protective covering. Enamel is robust and durable; it is the strongest structure in the human body. Although it is durable, it is constantly exposed to foods, beverages, and bodily fluids, containing sugars and acids and being damaging. Enamel erosion occurs when teeth are consistently exposed to acids over an extended time.
What Causes Enamel Erosion?
The most common cause of enamel erosion is the consumption of foods and beverages low on the pH scale (meaning acidic.) Unfortunately, many foods and drinks are acidic. Examples of very acidic foods and beverages are soda, wine, citrus fruits, candies and starchy foods. Other causes of enamel erosion are acid reflux, bulimia, certain medications such as antihistamines, dry mouth/low salivary flow and even teeth grinding.
What Does Enamel Erosion Look Like?
Enamel erosion may appear as worn down surfaces of the teeth. Also standard are rounded cusps, thin or translucent edges, shiny spots and yellow discolouration. Eroded teeth may be more susceptible to chipping, fracturing or breaking and may also be sensitive. When enamel erosion is mild, there may be no signs or symptoms.
How To Prevent Enamel Erosion
It is essential to take measures to prevent erosion of enamel before it occurs or gets worse. Measures needed to take are: reducing consumption of acidic foods and drinks, take medication if suffering from acid reflux, use a nightguard if clenching or grinding, use a salivary substitute for a dry mouth.
In addition, it is essential to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day.
How to Treat Enamel Erosion
Once enamel erosion is present, there are ways to treat it. The most imperative treatment is to replace lost enamel. This may be in the form of bonding, building up the tooth structure with filling material. If the erosion is severe, dental crowns or veneers may be required.
Unfortunately, there is no way to grow back lost enamel, so in essence, what’s gone is gone. Prevention of enamel erosion is key. If you have any questions about enamel erosion or ways to treat or prevent it, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a visit.