Dental erosion is a condition that occurs when the protective enamel on the teeth begins to wear away. This can cause the teeth to become sensitive, discolored, and more susceptible to decay. While dental erosion can cause immediate discomfort but also cause severe and long-term damage to your teeth.
What is Dental Erosion?
Dental erosion is the loss of tooth enamel due to exposure to acid. The enamel is the hard, protective outer layer of the tooth. Typically, it should withstand the wear and tear of everyday use. However, when acid interacts with the enamel repeatedly over time, it can begin to wear away.
What Causes Dental Erosion?
Many factors can contribute to dental erosion. However, some of the most common causes include the following:
Acidic Foods and Drinks
Foods and drinks high in acid, such as citrus fruits, soft drinks, and sports drinks, can erode tooth enamel over time. Additionally, foods and beverages with high sugar levels can also contribute to dental erosion. Consuming these foods and drinks in moderation is generally safe. However, consuming these foods and drinks excessively can lead to dental decay.
Acid reflux is a condition in which stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus and mouth. While mild or occasional acid reflux shouldn’t cause dental issues, severe or long-term reflux can damage the outer layer of your teeth. In addition, this acid can erode tooth enamel over time, mainly if the condition is chronic.
Saliva plays a critical role in protecting the teeth against acid erosion. In fact, saliva can help remineralize your teeth and help reduce the damaging effects of acid. However, when the mouth is dry, less saliva neutralizes the acid. Unfortunately, this can increase the risk of dental erosion.
How to Treat Dental Erosion
If you suspect dental erosion, seeing your dentist as soon as possible is important. Your dentist can evaluate the extent of the damage and recommend a treatment plan.
Dental bonding is a procedure in which your dentist will play a tooth-colored resin to your teeth to restore their shape and appearance. This can be particularly effective for repairing teeth eroded or damaged by acid.
In severe cases of dental erosion, you may need to have a tooth extracted due to acid damage. However, this is typically a last resort, and your dentist will explore all other treatment options before recommending extraction.
Preventing Dental Erosion
The best way to treat dental erosion is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Limiting Acidic Foods and Drinks: Try to limit your consumption of acidic foods and drinks, particularly soft drinks, citrus fruits, and sports drinks.
Using a Straw: When you consume acidic beverages, use a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.
Chewing Sugar-Free Gum: Chewing sugar-free gum can help stimulate saliva production, neutralizing acid and protecting against erosion.
Staying Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help keep your mouth moist and protect against dry mouth.