Unlike a normal bone in your body, when a tooth chips or breaks, your body cannot heal it. That’s why it’s so important that you maintain proper oral hygiene to help keep your teeth’s enamel strong and healthy for as long as possible.
Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice every day and flossing once per day to keep your teeth in the best shape. If you don’t, however, you may notice that your tooth enamel starts to degrade, which can lead to a lot of problems.
Enamel is a hard, translucent shell that covers the outside of your teeth, protecting them from chipping or breaking and also providing some insulation against extreme temperatures or harmful chemicals. However, it is not impenetrable, and since it contains no living tissue, it will not grow back once it’s been damaged.
There are many reasons why enamel may break down, and today we’re going to talk about some of the most common ones, as well as some signs to look out for.
Causes of Tooth Erosion
One of the most common reasons why tooth enamel grinds down is excessive exposure to acids which slowly wear away at the coating. However, there are also some other ways that erosion can occur. Here are some of the most common:
- Consuming a lot of very sugary or acidic foods and drinks: Some of the worst offenders for this category are sodas, which contain highly erosive chemicals like phosphoric and citric acids. Other things that can cause problems if consumed in excess are sports drinks, fruit drinks, citrus fruits, apples, berries, ice cream, syrups, and caramel.
- Dehydration: Not drinking enough water leads to a decrease in saliva Saliva plays a big role in maintaining dental hygiene, as it neutralizes acids that come into your mouth through the foods you eat. A lack of saliva means less protection, leading to faster tooth erosion.
- Acid reflux (GERD): If you suffer from this condition, you may be especially susceptible to tooth erosion due to the regular regurgitation of stomach acids coming into contact with your enamel.
- Bulimia: This is an eating disorder in which people make themselves vomit in order to keep themselves from gaining weight. Among those with this disorder, over 90% will experience some level of tooth erosion, as vomit is a highly corrosive substance.
- Alcoholism: Once again, this is because frequent consumption of alcohol can lead to increased vomiting and thus the enamel’s exposure to high levels of acid.
- Teeth grinding: This is not necessarily something that can be avoided, as many people involuntarily grind or clench their teeth during sleep.
- Improper brushing or flossing: Even if you do as dentists say and brush and floss regularly, it’s important to make sure you are doing so the right way. Brushing too hard or incorrectly flossing can damage your teeth rather than making them healthier.
- Pregnancy: While relatively uncommon, the frequent vomiting that many women experience during pregnancy can lead to tooth erosion. However, since for most people, this doesn’t become a chronic condition, erosion may not happen.
Signs of Tooth Erosion
There are some easy ways to tell if your enamel is breaking down. Some of these are:
- Sensitivity: In early stages of enamel erosion, you may notice a brief moment of pain when biting into foods that are especially hot, cold, or sweet. In later stages, this twinge may become a much more severe pain that causes you to gasp or jolt.
- Discoloration: Foods and drinks that stain your teeth are also likely to erode them. So if your teeth are yellowing, they might be damaged as well.
- Chipping and cracking: If your teeth look rough or jagged, it’s probably due to eroding enamel.
Treatment for Tooth Erosion
Since this damage cannot be reversed, the best way to protect your enamel is to maintain proper dental hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly, adjusting your diet to avoid sugary or acidic foods, and coming in for regular cleanings at your local dentist.
If you live in Simi Valley, California and are in need of a dentist, the Dental Group of Simi Valley would be happy to have you. Our experienced dentists offer a wide range of services, from general cleanings to crowns and veneers. Call us today to speak to our friendly staff.