Tooth Enamel Erosion: The #1 Cause of Tooth Sensitivity
We’ve all felt it at some point in our lives: tooth sensitivity when biting into something hard or eating or drinking something exceptionally hot or cold. And the feeling can be enough to stop us in our tracks. But in many cases, that feeling dissipates, or we transfer whatever we eat or drink to the other side of our mouth and go on our merry way.
We rarely stop to think about what is causing that tooth sensitivity in the first place. Yet it is crucial to understand the causes of tooth sensitivity and the impact that tooth enamel erosion can have on your oral health and daily life.
What is tooth enamel erosion?
The American Dental Association (ADA) defines tooth enamel erosion as the “chemical process characterized by acid dissolution of dental hard tissue not involving acids of bacterial origin.” But what does that really mean? Well, we know bacteria in our mouths can cause cavities. But this erosion isn’t coming from that kind of bacteria. Instead, it’s other acids eating away at the tooth’s enamel.
Your dental enamel is that thin outer covering of your tooth that covers that crown, the part that you can see outside of your gums. It’s actually the hardest substance in your body, and it doesn’t grow back when it starts to wear away.
Leading Causes of Tooth Enamel Erosion to Be Aware Of
Your teeth take on a lot throughout the years–biting, tearing, crushing, and grinding food before you swallow it. And all that work can really take a toll. But certain factors can cause more damage than others, leading to tooth sensitivity and other dental complications. Here are the leading causes of tooth enamel erosion that you should know about.
- Eating acidic sour foods and candies
- Drinking soda that is laden with phosphoric and citric acids
- Consuming fruit drinks
- A diet high in sugar and starches
- Usage of various medications and supplements such as antihistamines, aspirin, and vitamin C
- Presence of acid reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn
- Alcohol misuse or binge drinking
- Eating disorders, especially where purging is involved
- Friction on your teeth from bruxism or malocclusion
Symptoms of Tooth Enamel Erosion
Though tooth sensitivity is an obvious symptom of tooth enamel erosion, there are other signs that you should be aware of. Be on the lookout for the following.
- Tooth discoloration – Teeth may begin to appear yellow as more of the dentin is exposed.
- Cracks and chips – The edges of your teeth may become more irregular or feel rough or jagged as the enamel wears away.
- Shiny – Teeth may start to have a smooth or shiny surface, an indicator of enamel mineral loss.
- Cupping – You may start to see indentations on the surfaces of your teeth where you bite and chew.
How to Stop Tooth Enamel Erosion Before It Goes Too Far
Though some dental erosion is common as we get older, there are things we can do to keep tooth wear and tear to a minimum. One of the most important things you can do for your teeth is to visit your dentist every six months for preventive dental care.
At your dental visits, your dentist will perform a dental cleaning and oral examination. The dental cleaning will remove stubborn plaque as well as dental calculus that is impossible for you to remove at home. Your dentist will also assess the health of your dental enamel and will see if you are at risk for periodontitis.
But beyond preventive dental care, there are things that you can do on your own to limit tooth wear and tear and prevent excessive tooth enamel erosion.
- Limit your consumption of sugary foods and drinks.
- Avoid brushing your teeth too hard or for too long. You should brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Rinse your mouth once daily with a fluoride mouthwash that will help build your teeth’s resistance towards acidic foods and drinks.
- Consult your dentist about getting a mouthguard if you grind your teeth at night (bruxism).
- Wear a mouthguard if you participate in sports or high-contact athletic activities.
Your dentist may also recommend one of two common treatments for your dental erosion.
- Dental bonding – This process uses a tooth-colored composite resin material to enhance your smile.
- Tooth crowns – Dental crowns are placed over teeth where there may be weakened enamel or where there may be excessive tooth decay.
Request an appointment with MASC Dental Studio to help get your tooth enamel erosion under control.
If you believe that you are experiencing tooth enamel erosion or you are overdue for preventive dental care in the Washington, D.C., area, now is the time to request an appointment with MASC Dental Studio.
We pride ourselves on helping our patients achieve and maintain a brilliant smile and helping you keep your teeth healthy with minimal to no erosion or tooth decay is where it all starts. We look forward to meeting you and setting you on a path to oral health success!