Tooth erosion is the wearing away or loss of tooth enamel due to excess acid in the mouth. Over time, this erosion of tooth structure can lead to tooth sensitivity, discoloration and possible cracked teeth.
CAUSES OF TOOTH EROSION
The main cause of tooth erosion is acid, which typically comes from drinking excessive amounts of carbonated beverages, energy/sports drinks or pure fruit juice.
Tart, sour or acidic candies (Lemon Drops, Nerds, Sour Patch gummies, etc.) can also cause problems when consumed in excess or on a frequent basis due to their stickiness and acidic content.
Some medical conditions, including Acid Reflux and Bulimia may also cause tooth erosion, because of the increased presence of acid from the stomach in the mouth.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF TOOTH EROSION
The appearance or presentation of tooth erosion may vary, depending on the patient and acidic element causing the wear, but the common signs and symptoms include:
- Sensitivity – since the protective enamel or outer covering of the tooth is wearing away, you may feel a twinge of pain when you consume cold, hot or sweet foods and drinks. The level of sensitivity would increase with the amount of worn tooth structure.
- Discoloration – as the ‘pearly white’ enamel of the teeth wears thin or away, more of the darker or yellowish underlying dentin may become apparent; resulting in the discoloration of the involved teeth.
- Flattened or Rounded Teeth – Some of the anatomy or surface texture of the teeth may flatten, round or get a sand-blasted appearance.
- Transparency – The front teeth may appear slightly more translucent or see-through near the biting edges.
- Cracks – small cracks and rough edges may start to become prevalent on the tips of the tips.
- Cupping – small dents may develop on the chewing surfaces of the teeth and the existing fillings may appear to be rising or seem higher on the teeth.
PREVENTING TOOTH EROSION
The following recommendations will help prevent tooth erosion:
- Reduce your consumption of carbonated drinks, sports and energy drinks and pure fruit juice. Minimize consumption of acidic candies and treats.
- When or if consuming acidic drinks, use a straw, which helps reduces acid contact with your teeth. Do not swish or hold these drinks in your mouth for long periods of time.
- Rinse your mouth with water to neutralize acidic drinks or candies.
- Chew sugar-free gum to help your mouth produce more saliva and help remineralize your teeth.
- Brush with a soft toothbrush and use a fluoride containing toothpaste.
- Monitor and regulate your children’s consumption of acidic drinks, juices and candies.
CARING FOR TOOTH EROSION
The first step is to check with one of our Dentists to properly diagnose the situation. Some options or solutions for dealing with erosion include:
- Using specially formulated over-the-counter Sensitivity Toothpastes often helps minimize the sensitivity problem.
- Dentist or Hygienist applied Fluoride Varnish will also help reduce sensitivity.
- Depending on the severity and location, Dentists can often times apply a composite or bonding material to the teeth to better insulate and reduce the sensitivity, improve the appearance and prevent further wear or cupping.
In summary, tooth erosion impacts individuals differently. Feel free to talk to any of our Dentists or Hygienists if you have any questions or concerns.