Tooth erosion happens when acids wear away the enamel on our teeth. Enamel is the outer layer of the tooth that, like an armor coating, protects the more delicate interior of a tooth. Once this protective layer is breached, the tooth becomes more susceptible to decay.
Early signs of tooth erosion can be subtle, but this is the point when you may be able to reverse the damage. Unfortunately, tooth erosion often goes untreated because you may not have obvious symptoms or you may not even be aware of the problem and its warning signs.
Cosmetic dentist Keith Kelley works with his patients to ensure they understand how to keep their teeth and gums in optimal health. If you suspect tooth erosion or need information about the problem, Dr. Kelley, from his office in Troy, can examine your teeth and determine if you need tooth erosion treatment.
Causes of Tooth Erosion
Tooth erosion is different from cavities, which are caused by plaque and tartar. Tooth erosion is caused when acids soften the surface of tooth enamel.
How does your mouth become acidic? Some reasons include:
- Acidic Drinks. Soft drinks, fruit drinks, wine, and coffee are all examples of acidic drinks that can soften tooth enamel.
- Dry Mouth. Saliva protects your mouth by washing away foods but also by neutralizing acidity and hardening tooth enamel softened by acid.
- Acid Reflux. Stomach acid forced into the throat and mouth by acid reflux can damage tooth enamel.
- Vomiting. Repeated vomiting, such as from bulimia or alcoholism, can lead to tooth erosion.
Treatment for Tooth Erosion
Treatments for tooth erosion are similar to those for cavities and will depend on how severely your teeth have been damaged. The goal is to restore tooth structure and protect the tooth from further damage. Treatments include:
- Dental Bonding. By applying tooth-colored layers of composite resin to the surface of your tooth, you can re-create the protective layer that was lost when the enamel eroded.
- Porcelain Veneers. Like bonding, veneers create a protective shield on the tooth.
- Dental Crowns. A tooth that has been weakened may need to be covered by a crown that protects the entire tooth.
Preventing Tooth Erosion
In addition to brushing and flossing, there are simple daily habits you can take to reduce the effect of acids on your teeth. Some tips:
- Reduce how often you eat acidic foods. We all eat acidic foods, but it becomes a problem when we expose our teeth to acidic foods repeatedly by consuming them all day long.
- Reduce snacking on foods high in sugar and starches. The mouth is acidic for a few hours after you eat foods high in sugar and starches. Cutting down on snacking reduces the time your mouth is acidic.
- When consuming acidic drinks, use a straw placed to the back of the mouth to reduce exposing your teeth.
- Avoid swishing acidic drinks, like wine, around your mouth.
- Wait as long as possible after consuming acidic foods before brushing your teeth because acid softens the enamel. Waiting will give time for the enamel to harden again.
If you would like detailed information about how you can protect your teeth from acid erosion, please call.