Tooth enamel, the white substance on the outside of our teeth, is the most mineralized part of our body–it’s about 96% mineral! The second most mineralized is bone, about 70% mineral. Enamel is also the hardest substance in the body.
But enamel does have a weakness. Because it’s composed of so much mineral, it’s vulnerable to chemical attack, especially by acids. This is called tooth erosion, and it can be very bad for teeth. Once the enamel is gone from your teeth, the tooth is much more vulnerable to decay and destruction. Not only that, but they look very unattractive, as the inner layers of the tooth show through, and they are darker in color.
Are My Teeth Eroding?
It’s important to be able to identify the symptoms of enamel erosion. The sooner we can identify erosion, the more treatment options we have. Here are tooth erosion symptoms to look for:
- Rough teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Chipped or cracked teeth
One of the first things you’ll notice about tooth erosion is that your teeth will start to feel rough. That’s because the acid is creating pits in the enamel. This is different from the “fuzzy” feeling your teeth might develop as a result of plaque if you haven’t brushed your teeth for a while. This is roughness that persists even after you brush.
Enamel is your tooth’s protective layer. If your teeth start to get more sensitive to heat, cold, or pressure, it’s likely that your enamel has grown thin. (Either that, or you have receding gums, which can also be caused by exposure to acid).
Enamel erosion can cause your teeth to become discolored. At first, it makes your teeth turn dark because the pits and roughness caused by acid can trap stains. Later it makes your teeth turn dark because it lets the dentin (the layer under the enamel) show through. If your teeth don’t respond to teeth whitening or if they do respond but quickly get discolored, you might be experiencing erosion.
When your enamel erodes, it becomes weaker, making your teeth more likely to chip or crack.
How to Stop Tooth Erosion
If you think your teeth are eroding, there are several things that you should do immediately to try to combat erosion. These are all ways to reduce the amount of acid available to attack your teeth:
- Reduce your intake of acidic foods (especially vinegar, soda, citrus, and sports drinks)
- Hydrate properly
- Make sure your diet includes tooth-healthy minerals
- Reconsider exercise routines that may dehydrate you
- Talk to your doctor about gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- See a doctor about eating disorders
- Talk to your doctor about snoring and sleep apnea
- Schedule an appointment with a dentist
Most of these steps are designed to reduce the exposure of your teeth to acid. Food is the most common source of acid in the mouth. However, if you are dehydrated or dehydrate your mouth during exercise, your saliva can turn acidic, too. In addition, stomach acid that enters the mouth as a result of GERD or bulimia can attack your teeth. Mouth breathing during sleep–often related to snoring or sleep apnea–can dry your mouth overnight, making it more acidic, and speeding erosion.
During your consultation, we can talk about more specific strategies to combat your tooth erosion, and we can talk about tooth repair.
Tooth Erosion Repair
During your consultation and checkup, we can evaluate the level of erosion on your teeth. The repair approach we recommend depends on how badly your teeth are eroded.
For very minor erosion, we might recommend just waiting for the body’s natural mechanisms to restore the lost enamel.
For more serious, but still cosmetic damage, we might recommend veneers. Veneers can replace the lost enamel and give your teeth a beautiful, healthy appearance again.
However, if your teeth are badly eroded, dental crowns might be the best option. Dental crowns completely cover the visible surface of the teeth. Ceramic restorations not only restore the strength and beauty of your teeth, they protect them from further damage. Ceramic is very resistant to acid attack.
Let Us Help You Fight Tooth Erosion in Rockland County
If your teeth have been damaged by erosion, it’s important to start reversing the damage now. The longer you wait, the worse the damage, and the fewer options we will have.