Ways to Prevent Dental Erosion
- Dec 26 2017
What causes dental erosion and how can it be prevented?
The thin, outer part of the tooth is the enamel shell, which is the hardest tissue in the body. It serves as a protective layer from chemicals, hot and cold temperatures and the daily abuse from biting, chewing and grinding. Even though it is tough enough to withstand a lot, unlike bone, it does not contain living cells and so, when damaged, enamel cannot repair itself. This is true not only when we are talking about chips and breaks but also with dental erosion, which is the loss of the outer layer due to chemical interactions. Loss of enamel can result in painful sensitivity and discoloration and may require a crown or veneer.
Causes of Dental Erosion
Dental erosion happens when something causes pH levels, normally kept in balance by saliva, to be thrown off. Studies show that today’s increased consumption of soft drinks and sports drinks are a prime contributor due to their high levels of phosphoric and citric acids. Other causes include:
- Fruit drinks – most people do not realize that there are some acids present in fruit drinks that are more corrosive than battery acid
- Xerostomia – low saliva levels, also known as dry mouth
- High levels of sugar and starches in diet
- Acid reflux disease (GERD)
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Certain types of medications, like aspirin, antihistamines and vitamin C tablets
- Frequent vomiting from bulimia or alcoholism.
There are also environmental factors that can cause wear and tear, friction and stress on the enamel covering of the tooth. These include clenching or grinding teeth, especially while sleeping, and the wear and tear over time of brushing teeth too hard, improper flossing and biting or chewing on hard objects, like fingernails or pens.
Indicators of Dental Erosion
Indication of the erosion of enamel varies and often depends on the stage. Some signs may include:
- Sensitivity – a twinge of pain from temperature sensitivity, (hot or cold) as well as a similar reaction to sugar may be an early sign of the enamel surface being compromised
- Discoloration – the tell-tale yellowing is evidence that the outer layer has been breached
- Cracks and chips – the surface and edges of teeth become rough in spots as enamel erodes
- Cupping – indentations that appear on the surface of the teeth
- Severe sensitivity – teeth become extremely sensitive to temperatures and sweets in the later stages, resulting in painful jolts and impacting quality of life
The best course of action for dental erosion is to take steps to prevent it from happening. This starts with consistently keeping the surface of the teeth clean through proper brushing, flossing and regular dental checkups and cleanings. Some of the other things that can be helpful are:
- Reduce or eliminate highly acidic foods and drinks from your diet and rinse with water immediately after eating or drinking anything with a high acidic content.
- Monitor consumption of foods high in sugar and starch. Brush teeth immediately after eating.
- Sugar-free gum can boost saliva production which in turn strengthens the protective covering.
- Drink more water, especially if there is a low saliva volume or dry mouth.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
Your dentist is your number one source of information about best practices and treatment when dealing with dental erosion. You might wish to inquire about sealants, which can be helpful in preventing enamel erosion and subsequent tooth decay.
Forest Hills Dentistry is dedicated to delivering the highest quality of dentistry possible. We offer the latest and most current information and services to our patients with a new state-of-the-art facility in Forest Hills, Queens. Patient comfort, individualized care and complete satisfaction is our priority.
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