Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body; it protects the teeth from decay and other forms of dental damage. When the enamel wears thin, however, the teeth can become increasingly sensitive to heat and cold. Furthermore, it can lead to dental problems, such as decay, bite issues, and TMJ disorder, among other things.
Here, our Canton, OH dental team explores some of the most common causes of tooth erosion, and explains how patients can prevent this type of damage or correct it with treatments in restorative dentistry.
About Tooth Enamel
Enamel, the outermost layer of a tooth, covers the clinical crown, the visible portion that extends beyond the gum line. This substance protects your teeth against chewing forces and potentially harmful chemicals or temperatures.
Although enamel is incredibly resilient, it is not impervious to damage. Constant excessive force, sugary drinks, and other environmental factors can cause the enamel to crack, chip, or wear down over time.
Common Causes of Tooth Erosion
Most commonly, tooth erosion begins when acids eat away the enamel. This can occur for a number of reasons. Some of the most common causes include:
- Excessive consumption of phosphoric and citric acids, commonly found in soft drinks
- Acids found in fruit drinks
- Xerostomia, or chronic dry mouth
- A diet high in starches and sugars
- GERD or acid reflux disease
- Certain medications, such as aspirin or antihistamines
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Hereditary factors
- Environmental factors
Environmental Factors of Tooth Erosion
One of the most common causes of tooth erosion is environmental wear. This can develop due to friction, corrosion, or every day wear and tear.
For example. Tooth erosion is often the result of:
- Attrition: This is the clinical term for tooth-to-tooth friction, which commonly occurs in patients suffering from bruxism, or chronic teeth grinding. Oftentimes, bruxism happens subconsciously during sleep.
- Abrasion: It is possible to brush or floss the teeth too hard, as it can lead to physical wear and tear. In addition, abrasion can be caused by chewing on ice, pens, pencils, or fingernails.
- Abfraction: Stress fractures can develop in the tooth structure as a result of bending or flexing the tooth.
- Corrosion: This type of environmental damage is caused by chemically acidic materials. For example, vitamin C tablets, aspirin, certain prescription medications, and the consumption of highly acidic foods can lead to corrosion. In addition, gastrointestinal issues, including frequent vomiting from alcoholism or bulimia, can also become problematic for your dental health.
Treatments for Tooth Erosion
Of course, preventing tooth erosion from happening in the first place is preferable when feasible. However, if the damage has already occurred, there are several restorative treatments that can be performed to correct the condition, such as dental crowns or porcelain veneers.
However, it is important to note that the root cause of erosion must be addressed; otherwise, the problem will continue and possibly hinder the success of your treatment. Therefore, if you suffer from bruxism, your dentist will most likely talk with you about the use of a custom oral appliance to protect your investment.
Contact Our Practice to Learn More
If your smile has been compromised by tooth erosion, we can develop a personalized treatment plan to meet your needs. To schedule a consultation at our practice, call us at (330) 478-4949 or contact us online anytime.