Tooth Erosion: Causes and Prevention

Man with large tooth
The enamel on your teeth is your first defense against decay. Make sure you care for your enamel as if it was your best friend! Photo by 3DAgenturyayimages.com

Tooth or dental erosion is a condition in which the tooth enamel wears down and erodes. In most cases, this corrosion develops due to the acidic content that builds in the oral cavity, which increases as certain sugar-laden drinks and foods are consumed.

Nevertheless, tooth erosion takes place due to several other reasons which will be discussed later on. In this article, we will also keep our focus on the consequences and types of erosion and will discuss some remedies to prevent them.

Tooth erosion is a serious concern in the pediatric healthcare environment of the country because nearly 12 percent American children are suffering from this periodontal issue. It’s important to be aware of the grave consequences of tooth erosion so that one can remain vigilant in preventing it.

Consequences of Tooth Erosion
Tooth erosion can lead to several issues because enamel, the protective hard layer in the oral cavity, is the major victim of this dental problem.

Teeth Discoloration
Worn out enamel means the protective white layer of your teeth has been damaged, which subsequently results in stained, discolored and yellow teeth. Discolored teeth are not just prone to periodontal diseases, they also affect one’s confidence in public and social settings.

Exposed Dentin
Beneath the enamel, there is a soft calcified tissue called dentin. When a person suffers from tooth erosion, dentin starts to get exposed to the external environment. It covers the nerve pulp of a tooth and its exposure can lead to increased tooth sensitivity.

It is imperative to immediately consult an experienced dentist because dentin is comparatively softer than enamel and erodes more quickly. If left untreated, it can culminate in total tooth loss and severe periodontal pains.

Causes of Tooth Erosion

Chemical Reasons  

Foods and Drinks
Acidic content of food items is the leading cause of tooth erosion. Enamel is indeed a hardened layer but it can’t withstand the constant exposure to an acidic environment.  Soft carbonated drinks and some fruit drinks are very rich in edible acids and excessive use is not advised (not to mention weight gain). Similarly, sugary foods when broken down by oral enzymes also releases acids which affect enamel.  

Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions such as heartburn or acid reflux and Xerostomia (dry mouth) can prompt the process of tooth erosion. Administration of some medicines can increase the acidic environment of oral cavity since they may also cause dry mouth.

Physical Reasons
Physical stress also leads to teeth erosion. Physical reasons for tooth erosion are also classified into two sections.

Oral diseases and injuries:
Tooth erosion can occur by friction between the teeth. Bruxism is an oral condition in which the affected individuals grind and clench their teeth with such a force that it results in the wear and tear of the enamel.  Tooth fractures due to bending and twisting of the teeth also leads to erosion.

Daily physical wear and tear: Using a hard-bristle toothbrush, poor flossing and biting on tough objects are additional reasons behind this ongoing wear and tear.

Prevention of Tooth Erosion
Aside from maintaining healthy daily oral hygiene, tooth erosion can be prevented by adopting some of the suggested measures listed below:

Limiting acidic drinks
Eliminating the consumption of carbonated drinks and limiting the use of fruit juices, particularly the ones rich in citrus is important if you want to increase the natural life of enamel. You can also limit the exposure of acidic drinks to teeth by consuming them through straws.

Cut off Snacks
Snacks rich in sugar and starch don’t just make you obese, they also affect your teeth with their acidic byproducts.  Therefore cutting them off from your diet is the best option. Even if you have a craving to munch on them, make sure that you are brushing and flossing afterward.  

Use good fluoride toothpaste and drinking lots of water helps in reducing the acidic content of the mouth. If you are facing the issue of dry mouth, then sugar-free chewing gum is a great help in producing saliva.  

In case of severe tooth erosion, a professional remineralization procedure can help in stopping the process. It also helps in alleviating the inconvenience and pain caused by the erosion of teeth enamel. Consult a qualified and experienced dentist to get further guidance on tooth erosion and remineralization.

 

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