Tooth enamel erosion is a prevalent oral health issue that affects many of us at different stages of life. However, despite it’s prevalence, it’s not thought about all that often but we’re here to change that. Tooth enamel erosion is more than just a simple cosmetic concern, it can often be the gateway to many other oral health issues that you’d much rather avoid. Today, we’ll be delving deep into this topic, exploring its causes, how you can prevent it, and the available treatment options.
What is Tooth Enamel and Why is it Important?
Tooth enamel is the hard, outer layer of your teeth. It’s one of the hardest substances in your body, but it’s not invincible. Enamel plays a crucial role in protecting your teeth from daily wear and tear, as well as extreme temperatures and harmful chemicals. Once it wears away, it doesn’t regenerate, making it paramount to take steps to preserve it. It’s also the first line of defence for your teeth, protecting those sensitive layers underneath. When you have healthy enamel it allows your teeth to function properly and can help your teeth to remain pain free. It also, helps to keep your smile beautifully bright, reflecting the color of the underlying dentin.
What Happens When You Lose Tooth Enamel?
When your enamel erodes it exposes the dentin that’s underneath, which is the layer just below the enamel. This can cause your teeth to be more sensitive and thus, more painful when you’re having foods and drinks. It can also lead to your teeth appearing more yellow due to the loss of the translucence of the enamel. Over time, this can lead to cavities, infections, and even tooth loss if not addressed promptly.
Can Tooth Enamel Grow Back?
Unfortunately, once tooth enamel is lost, it cannot regenerate or grow back. This is because enamel lacks living cells, making it unable to repair itself like other parts of the body can. However, remineralisation can occur, where minerals are redeposited in enamel from the saliva. This process can help strengthen weakened enamel, but it cannot replace lost enamel.
Causes of Tooth Enamel Erosion:
- Acidic Foods and Drinks: Frequent consumption of acidic substances like citrus fruits, wine, and carbonated drinks can wear down enamel over time.
- Dry Mouth: Saliva helps to neutralise acids in the mouth. A lack of saliva (dry mouth) can increase the risk of enamel erosion.
- Bruxism: Grinding or clenching your teeth, especially at night, can significantly wear down enamel.
- Gastrointestinal Issues: Conditions such as acid reflux can bring stomach acids into the mouth, contributing to enamel erosion.
Medications: Certain medications, particularly liquid ones, can be acidic and have an adverse effect on enamel.
Prevention is Key
- Maintain a Balanced Diet: It’s absolutely essential to ensure that your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It’s also a good idea to consume foods high in calcium which can also help to strengthen your teeth.
- Use Fluoride Toothpaste: Fluoride helps to strengthen enamel and makes it more resistant to acid.
- Drink Water Regularly: Consuming water helps to wash away food particles and bacteria, and it also helps to neutralise harmful acids in your mouth.
- Reduce Sugary Snacks and Drinks: Sugar works to feed the harmful bacteria in your mouth, producing acids that erode enamel.
- Avoid Snacking Between Meals: Constant snacking provides a continual fuel supply to bacteria in the mouth, leading to acid production, so it’s best to avoid regular snacking.
- Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush: Using a soft-bristled toothbrush ensures that you clean your teeth effectively without causing damage to the enamel.
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene: Maintaining a good oral hygiene regimen is top of the list. This involves brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time, and flossing once a day. If you do this, you’re helping to remove plaque, which is a big contributor to enamel erosion.
- Avoid Chewing on Hard Objects: Make sure to avoid chewing on ice or other hard objects as they can cause chips or cracks in the enamel.
- Wait Before You Brush: If you’ve consumed any acidic foods or beverages such as a soft drink, it’s important to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth to prevent yourself from spreading the acid around.
10. Regular Dental Check-Ups: One key tip that’s often forgotten but is extremely important is visiting your dentist regularly. Your dentist can identify early signs of enamel erosion and treat any issues.
11. Consider Sealants: In some cases, your dentist might recommend sealants to protect your teeth from decay and erosion.
12. Stay Hydrated, Especially During Exercise: It’s essential that you always stay well-hydrated, particularly when you’re exercising as this can help to maintain saliva flow and protect your teeth.
13. Use an Antibacterial Mouthwash: Using an antibacterial mouthwash can help to reduce the levels of harmful bacteria in your mouth.
If enamel erosion has already set in, it’s crucial to address it promptly to prevent further damages. We offer a wide range of treatments tailored to your specific needs. These may include:
- Fluoride Treatments: Professional fluoride applications can help strengthen enamel.
- Bonding: In cases of severe enamel erosion, dental bonding can help protect the tooth and improve its appearance.
- Veneers: For extensive damage, veneers can restore the appearance and function of the teeth.
- Regular Check-ups: Regular visits to a dentist ensure early detection and management of enamel erosion.
Preserving your tooth enamel is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy smile. Understanding its causes, implementing preventive measures, and seeking timely professional care are key steps towards achieving this goal. We’re here to guide you as we go, offering advice, comprehensive care, and a welcoming environment. Here at Bite Dental, we’re committed to your long-term oral and overall health, and we take pride in being a trusted part of the Brisbane community. Ready to take the next step towards a healthier smile? Give us a call at 07 3221 5399 or book your appointment online.