One of the most common problems we see people for at the office is tooth pain and sensitivity. This type of problem is often caused by the erosion of tooth enamel. If you have an onset of sensitivity or minor pain, it’s important to be aware of this type of discomfort in order to track it and have it treated. Tooth sensitivity can be easily diagnosed by Dr. Kotre, and as long as the erosion is caught at an early stage, the treatment is generally inexpensive and simple, and can include such things as using a toothpaste specifically crafted to treat the sensitivity. However, if the erosion is at an advanced stage, more complex treatments may be necessary, including bonding or even crowns.
What does tooth enamel do? Tooth enamel is essentially the protective coating that protects teeth from chewing, biting, and general use. It also protects against extreme temperatures in food and beverages. Unfortunately, it can chip and crack over time. Unlike bone, enamel is not regenerative, and cannot repair itself.
What causes tooth enamel to erode?
Tooth enamel can erode due to a variety of factors, including:
- Acid reflux disease - Use of certain medications - Excessive consumption of high-acid beverages such as fruit drinks and sodas - Diet high in sugars and starches - Genetics - A medically-diagnosed condition known as “dry mouth” - Bulimia
Tooth enamel may also be eroded by environmental factors such as attrition (caused by tooth grinding), abrasion, corrosion, and plaque buildup.
What are some of the signs of enamel erosion?
- Sensitivity, ranging from minor to extreme. If you find that you are experiencing an onset of sensitivity, give the office a call so we can examine the areas of sensitivity and catch any problems as early as possible. - Rounding, discoloration, or cupping of the teeth and enamel - Cracks and chips in the enamel
Can tooth enamel erosion be prevented?
To a certain extent, yes. There are always uncontrollable factors such as age and genetics that will keep some people’s enamel from ever being as resilient as others’, but there are certainly ways to help keep enamel as strong as possible.
- Chew sugar-free gum between meals to keep saliva moving in the mouth, and help wash away acids and sugars that contribute to enamel erosion - Use a straw when consuming acidic drinks - If you grind your teeth, see Dr. Kotre to have your bruxism treated to avoid further damage to your enamel - Drink plenty of water, especially if you have dry mouth - Reduce or eliminate acidic foods and beverages - Be sure the toothpaste you are using contains fluoride, which will help strengthen teeth