What is Tooth Erosion?
Medikoe Health Expert
Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
Enamel is the outer covering of the tooth; it is quite a tough shell and is known as the hardest tissue of the human body. Enamels cover the crown of the tooth which is visible outside the gums. Enamel is translucent, and you can see through it. Dentin is said to be the essential part of the tooth and the portion which is responsible for your tooth colour-whether white, off white, grey, or yellowish.
Tooth erosion is the deterioration of the protective outer layer (enamel), exposing the dentine underneath, which may lead to pain and sensitivity. Also known as acid or dental erosion, it is caused due to acidic pH in the mouth. It leads to weakened teeth and less structural stability in a bite.
Some foods and beverages like coffee, tea, cola, red wine, fruit juices, and cigarettes leave stains on your tooth enamel. Consistent visits to your dentist for routine cleaning or polishing of your teeth can maintain your tooth enamel from decaying leading to healthy teeth.
What does an enamel do?
The enamel protects your teeth from day-to-day use such as biting, grinding, chewing, and crunching. Albeit enamel being the hardest tissues of the human body it can chip and crack. Enamel also protects the teeth from potentially harmful chemicals and fickle temperatures.
Although enamel has exceptional ability to protect teeth from harmful chemicals, once chapped or broken the body cannot repair it, unlike a broken bone. Because the enamel doesn't have any living cells, the body cannot fix the chipped or the cracked part.
Causes of Tooth erosion
Tooth erosion occurs when acids or chemicals wear away the enamel coating in the teeth. the few reasons that cause tooth or enamel erosion are mentioned below:
- Excessive consumption of soft drinks, especially the drinks with high levels of phosphoric and citric acids.
- Fruity drinks, the acids present in few drinks are more erosive than battery acid.
- Xerostomia also is known as low salivary flow leading to dry mouth.
- Consumption of foods which are rich in carbs or sugar can cause enamel erosion.
- Acid Reflux ( GERD).
- Gastrointestinal problems.
- Concurrent use of medications like aspirin, antihistamines.
- Enamel erosion can also be inherited.
- Environmental factors like friction, wear and tear, corrosion and stress play a significant role.
- Stimulants like wine, coffee, beer also cause teeth erosion.
Environmental factors responsible for the erosion
Friction, stress, wear and tear, and corrosion (or any of these actions) can lead to tooth erosion. Few terms used to explain the mechanism of these terminologies include:
Abrasion: Abrasion is physical wear and tear of the tooth that happens due to improper flossing, brushing your teeth too hard, biting on hard objects ( such as fingernails, bottle caps, or pens) or chewing tobacco too often.
Attrition: Attrition is rubbing against a surface which causes loss of mass, this is a result of tooth-to-tooth friction which happens when one clenches or grinds their teeth such as with bruxism, which generally occurs unintentionally during sleep.
Corrosion: This is a result of chemicals when acids or food or beverages containing a tremendous amount of acid is consumed; they erode the enamel coating of the teeth. Certain medications like aspirin or vitamin C tablets, highly acidic foods, GERD, and frequent vomiting from bulimia or alcoholism.
Abfraction: Abfraction occurs due to stress fractures in the tooth such as cracks from flexing or bending of the tooth.
Research shows bulimia as one of the causes of enamel erosion and tooth decay. Bulimia is a popular term for binge eating and vomiting, a source of acid. Frequent vomiting can cause erosion of tooth enamel and can thereby cause cavities.
Saliva plays a significant role in keeping the teeth healthy and active and away from cavities. Saliva protects the enamel by coat8ing the teeth with a protective layer of calcium and other minerals. Saliva also helps in diluting the harmful acids and other erosive agents. It also helps my removing the waste material from mouth and boosts the production of protective substances that help fight mouth diseases and bacterias.
Generally, Calcium-rich saliva in your mouth helps strengthen teeth, even while consumption of acid-rich drinks or juices. Yet when you exceed your limit of ingestion of acidic food and beverages, the process of strengthening on the teeth may no longer occur.
Symptoms of Tooth Erosion
- Sensitivity development is an early sign of enamel erosion. You may start feeling uneasy while consuming hot or cold food items.
- The teeth appear yellow.
- Edges and ends of teeth become more irregular and eroded.
- In later stages, the sensitivity may be too much to handle. Eating sweets or hot/cold food items may cause unbearable pain.
- Indentations appear on the surface of the teeth.
Prevention of Tooth Erosion
- Oral care is a must. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily.
Get yourself checked regularly to diagnose at an early stage itself.
Eliminate acidic foods and drinks from your diet. Cut down on soft drinks, carbonated drinks, citrus and other acidic items.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Treatment of Tooth Erosion
The treatment will depend on the severity of the erosion. Lost enamel can never be recovered completely. If it is in the early stage, the loss can be eliminated by remineralisation and should be sufficient. You will also need to use specific toothpaste to fight sensitivity.
If the enamel is eroded significantly, fillings may be placed. If the erosion is too much, your dentist may recommend covering your teeth with a crown to prevent from further erosion.
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