Also known as acidic tooth erosion and enamel erosion, dental erosion refers to the softening and wearing down of the topmost layer of the tooth’s structure. This is the result of an acidic pH in your mouth. The enamel softens, and lead to it wearing away. Dental erosion should not be mistake for tooth decay. The latter is caused by oral bacteria in the mouth rather than oral acidity.
The team at our East Honolulu restorative dentistry practice has helped numerous patients dealing with dental erosion. Let’s consider the causes of tooth erosion, how it’s linked to pain and sensitivity, and what can be done to treat and prevent this problem.
Causes of Dental Erosion
The most common causes of dental erosion include:
- Carbonated beverages
- Citrus fruits
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sugar consumption
- Acid reflux/GERD
- Bulimia/eating disorders
- Genetics and family history
Tooth sensitivity is one of the first signs and symptoms of dental erosion. As the tooth enamel wears away, it exposes more of the underlying dentin layer of a tooth. The dentin is porous, meaning that it is more sensitive to heat, cold, and pressure than the tooth enamel. You may notice a sharp and sudden pain when having soup or coffee, or when you’re trying to enjoy some ice cream.
Toothaches and Pain
When the dental erosion progresses, the tooth sensitivity can get worse. Rather than just sensitivity to hot and cold substances, you may feel outright pain. This is particularly true when biting something hard, like a carrot or apple; chewing on touch foods like beef jerky and tough meats can also result in pain.
Treatments for Dental Erosion
If you suffer from dental erosion, the ideal treatment is usually some sort of dental restoration. Using a filling, inlay, onlay, or crown can replace the compromised tooth enamel. This protects the underlying structures of a tooth and restores your ability to bite and chew without pain or sensitivity.
The extent of the erosion will determine the right restoration to use. Mild dental erosion may be addressed with just carefully placed fillings. Major dental erosion may necessitate the use of a dental crown. We should note that tooth-colored and metal restorations are available as well.
Avoid Dental Erosion with a Drinking Straw
One of the best ways to prevent dental erosion is to use a drinking straw. A straw allows harmful beverages to bypass your teeth, reducing direct exposure to acidic substances. You can also moderate your consumption of certain foods and beverages to reduce the risk of erosion and other dental problems.
Stay Hydrated to Keep Acidity Down
If dry mouth is the major factor in your dental erosion, consider drinking more water. Staying hydrated will keep your mouth moist and less acidic.
Wait Before You Brush and Floss
After a meal or beverage, consider waiting at least 30 minutes before brushing and flossing your teeth. Acidic substances can soften the enamel, meaning that immediate brushing and flossing can actually wear away tooth structure. Drink a glass of water and wait 30 minutes to ensure the effects of oral acidity have passed.
Contact Dr. Rohinton Patel
For more information about treating and preventing dental erosion, be sure to contact an experienced cosmetic and restorative dentist. Our team is here to help you have a healthy smile.