Common medical questions and answers through blogs and articles

What Is Tooth Erosion?

Teeth have four layers. The first layer  is the enamel. The second layer is the dentin, or the inner layer. The third layer is the pulp, which contains blood vessels and nerves. The fourth layer of teeth is the cementum, which is a calcified substance that covers the tooth root. The layer that is most affected by tooth erosion is the first layer, the enamel. When teeth erode, loss of enamel occurs that is irreversible. Tooth enamel is a pretty hard substance. In fact, it’s the hardest tissue in the human body. It’s mineralized hard tissue that covers the tooth and protects it. However, tooth enamel can become chemically dissolved by too much acid. Following is information from top dentists about tooth erosion, as well as recommendations on how to prevent its occurrence.

Tooth Erosion

Tooth enamel erosion can occur from both extrinsic as well as intrinsic sources. This means that not only can it erode due to what you consume, but it can also be affected by conditions within your body. Tooth erosion is a slow process that progresses over time. It eventually leads to the loss of those coatings that surround your teeth and protect them. Tooth erosion can lead to mild problems with teeth, such as sensitivity and discoloration. It can also lead to more serious dental issues such as severe sensitivity to cold and hot foods and beverages, cracked teeth, tooth decay, and even loss of teeth.

What causes Tooth Erosion?

Tooth erosion is caused by acid, and excessive consumption of acidic foods is the main cause of tooth erosion. There are many acidic foods that we eat that are quite healthy, such as citrusy fruits and fruit juices.  There are many other acidic foods, especially in the modern diet, that are not so healthy, such as sports drinks, diet sodas, and carbonated mineral water. It may surprise you to know that, where tooth erosion is concerned, it doesn’t matter which of these are excessively consumed. Tooth enamel hates it when too much acid is consumed; it doesn’t care what kind of acid it is. Of course, it’s better to eat healthy acidic foods such as fruit and fruit juices, rather than the unhealthy kind. However, when it comes to tooth enamel, it’s just plain bad to consume too much acid … period.

Symptoms of Tooth Erosion

There are warning signs that you may be consuming too much acid and are, therefore, more susceptible to tooth erosion. Most of these cause a decreased depth of tooth enamel. The symptoms of tooth erosion include tooth sensitivity, tooth discoloration, tooth tip transparency, and shorter or rounded teeth. It’s important to note, however, that these are the early signs of tooth erosion. If you notice any of these warning signs, you should contact your family dentist to schedule an evaluation. The warning signs of tooth erosion that has progressed to a more advanced stage include tooth cracking, tooth decay, and exposure of the pulp layer of the teeth.

What can be done?

If you are experiencing any of the above signs of tooth erosion, schedule a consultation and examination with your family dentist as soon as possible. Talk to your dentist about steps you can take to prevent any further damage from occurring to your teeth due to tooth erosion. Your dentist likely will recommend that you limit your intake of acidic foods. He may also suggest that you drink through a straw, as this may lessen the time your teeth has in contact with acidic beverages. Another important prevention of tooth erosion is to quit smoking. Smoking causes bacteria to build up on teeth, and it causes other health problems that can lead to immune system breakdown.

There are also medical conditions that can contribute to tooth erosion. Some of these include GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), alcoholism, and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Again, talk to your dentist about any medical conditions you have that may be contributing to erosion of tooth enamel to find out what you can do to prevent it or stop it from progressing. If you are on regular medications, these too can contribute to tooth erosion because they may cause dry mouth. In this case, it’s important to keep plenty of sugarless gum or sugarless candies on hand to replenish saliva that’s vital to the mouth in eliminating bacteria buildup. Finally, if you don’t have a regular dentist you see twice a year, contact a top dentist in your area to schedule an appointment.

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