at Kent and Woodbury Dental and Laser Clinic in Kent
Teeth structures are covered with extremely strong teeth enamel, which is the strongest and hardest part of the human body. However, even if the teeth are protected by this very strong layer, they are not indestructible – especially if the tooth enamel is exposed to acid attacks, and tooth erosion occurs. It is best to consider tooth erosion prevention with the help of a Kent dentist, rather than dealing with the aftermath of worn teeth – which may have serious effects on one’s overall dental health.
What is Tooth Erosion?
Tooth erosion is the loss of tooth enamel structure, usually due to an acid attack. The outer layer of tooth enamel that protects the entire tooth structure from daily wear and tear of chewing, grinding, or biting suffers from tooth erosion, which can gradually worsen to expose the more sensitive parts of the tooth underneath.
What Causes Tooth Erosion?
The most common cause of tooth erosion is an acid attack, which can come from the food and beverages that a person consumes. While the teeth are protected by calcium that is naturally present in the saliva, this protection can be undermined with the presence of a high amount of acid inside the mouth as well. Acidic beverages such as fruit juices and soft drinks can start acid attacks on the teeth enamel – especially if these drinks are consumed on a regular basis. The acid in food and beverages slowly erode the tough tooth enamel; if left untreated, more serious dental problems can arise from tooth erosion concerns.
An acid attack can also come in the form of an acid reflux disease or GERD. Strong stomach acids that come into contact with the teeth can damage the enamel of the teeth, and can cause serious tooth erosion problems.
A dry mouth condition can cause tooth erosion, as the whole mouth area – including the teeth – need to be hydrated for proper functioning. When the mouth area is dehydrated, teeth are more prone to acid attacks that cause tooth erosion. Dry mouth can also be the result of certain medications, such as aspirin or antihistamines.
Tooth Erosion Symptoms
Tooth Sensitivity – Sensitive teeth can be the result of the erosion of the tooth enamel, which forms a protective barrier for the tooth’s more sensitive structures underneath. When tooth erosion occurs, this protective barrier is decreased or even removed – exposing the sensitive inner tooth structure and causing tooth sensitivity.
Rounded Teeth Appearance – Teeth that are being eroded can take on a rounded appearance, as the edges and corners are slowly smoothened due to the acid attack.
Transparent-Looking Teeth – Teeth that are suffering from tooth erosion can take on a transparent appearance, which is sometimes described as “sandblasted”.
Cracks on Teeth – Cracks on the surface of teeth are tooth erosion symptoms caused by weakened tooth enamel, which will be visible to the dentist at Woodbury Dental and Laser Clinic– or even to the patient himself. Tooth erosion weakens the tooth enamel, making it more susceptible to cracks and other structural damage.
Unnatural Dents on Teeth – Dental erosion can also cause dents to appear on the surface of teeth, especially on the parts where the teeth are used to bite or chew.
Teeth Discolouration – Tooth erosion can expose the sensitive inner structure of the tooth called the dentine; decolouration or yellowing of the affected tooth follows the exposure of dentine.
Prevention of Tooth Erosion
- Avoid regular or heavy consumption of food and beverages with a high acid content. The acids that come from these food and drinks can quickly attack the tooth enamel and cause serious tooth erosion problem. It is best to use a straw when drinking a beverage that has high acid content (such as soft drinks or fruit juices), so that the contact between the acidic drink and the teeth surfaces are minimized.
- If drinking acidic beverages cannot be avoided, it is best to have these drinks with a meal to counteract a portion of the acidity level. The power of an acid attack will be greater when the acidic beverage is consumed on its own, without any other food intake.
- After consuming a meal with acidic food or drinks, you can eat a piece of cheese or milk; these food items will help neutralize the effects of the acidic meal.
- After eating, you can chew on sugar-free gum to produce more saliva, which in turn can help counteract any acid attacks from wreaking havoc on the teeth enamel.
- Use oral hygiene products recommended by a Kent dentist that are fortified with fluoride, to give teeth enamel the additional protection it needs against acid attacks.
- After the consumption of acidic food or drinks, it is best to wait for at least an hour before brushing your teeth. This gives the teeth the time that it needs to build up the minerals from calcium in the saliva that have been lost during the meal/acidic beverage consumption.