If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about your teeth all that much. You brush them twice a day, floss once a week, and go to the dentist for a cleaning once every six months. But what if we told you that there was something else going on with your teeth that you weren’t aware of? Something that could potentially cause them to erode over time? This is something called dental erosion, and it’s a lot more common than you might think. In this blog post, we will be discussing what dental erosion is, how it occurs, and some of the things that can contribute to it. We hope this information will help educate you on this important topic!
What is dental erosion?
Dental erosion is the loss of tooth structure due to a chemical reaction. It’s different from cavities, which are caused by bacteria. And it’s also different from abrasion, which is caused by physical forces (like brushing too hard). Dental erosion can happen to anyone at any age, but it’s most common in adults.
To understand how dental erosion affects your teeth, you will first need to know a little bit about tooth anatomy. There are three layers to your teeth: the enamel, the dentin, and the pulp. The enamel is the hard outer layer that protects your teeth from everyday wear and tear. The dentin is the softer middle layer. And the pulp is the innermost layer that contains blood vessels and nerves.
Dental erosion starts with a process called demineralization. This is when the minerals in your enamel (like calcium and phosphate) are dissolved by acids. Demineralization doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a slow process that happens over time. In some cases, if demineralization is caught early, it can be reversed using fluoride treatments. Fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel by providing the necessary minerals.
However, if demineralization continues, then the enamel will continue to erode. Over time, this causes the enamel to become thinner and thinner. Eventually, it can also cause the dentin layer to be exposed. When this happens, you will likely start to experience tooth sensitivity. This is because the dentin layer contains thousands of microscopic channels that allow stimuli to reach the tooth’s nerve inside the pulp layer. Not only that, but dental erosion also increases your risk of tooth decay and damage since it weakens the overall structure of your teeth.
What causes dental erosion?
There are many things that can contribute to dental erosion:
Saliva is important for keeping your mouth healthy. It helps neutralize acids and rinse away food particles. If you have a dry mouth, there’s less saliva available to do these things. As a result, more bacteria are able to feed off of leftover food particles and reproduce. As bacterial levels increase, the acidity of your saliva also increases, which contributes to enamel erosion.
Stomach acid can cause dental erosion if it flows back up into the mouth (this is called GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease). This can happen if you have a weak valve between your stomach and esophagus. Oftentimes, the effects of stomach acid are most noticeable on the backs or insides of the teeth. The acidity of stomach acid is much higher than saliva, so it can cause serious damage to your teeth if it’s not treated.
Certain foods and drinks are more acidic than others. When you consume these foods and drinks, the acids can temporarily soften your enamel. This makes your teeth more susceptible to erosion. Some examples of acidic foods and drinks include: lemons, oranges, tomatoes, soda, energy drinks, and vinegar. It can help to rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods or beverages to neutralize these harmful acids and reduce the amount of damage being done to your enamel.
Bruxism is a condition where you grind or clench your teeth. This can put a lot of stress on your teeth and cause them to wear down over time. While this is considered to be more abrasive than erosive, it still makes your teeth more susceptible to the acids in your mouth. Luckily, bruxism can be treated by wearing a custom-fitted night guard to prevent excess wear and tear on your teeth.
Drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco are both major risk factors for dental erosion. Alcohol is acidic, and both alcohol and tobacco use can decrease the amount of saliva in your mouth. Not to mention that alcohol and tobacco slow down your mouth’s ability to heal itself. This combination makes it easier for acids to attack your teeth and cause them to erode.
Preventing Dental Erosion:
There are many things you can do to prevent dental erosion. First, try to limit your consumption of acidic foods and drinks. If you do consume them, rinse your mouth with water and wait at least 20 minutes to brush your teeth afterwards. This will help remove the acids from your teeth before they have a chance to do any damage. Additionally, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This will help keep your mouth moist and prevent dry mouth. And lastly, quit smoking and using tobacco products. This is one of the best things you can do for your oral health!
Treating Dental Erosion:
If you already have dental erosion, there are still things you can do to treat it. First, you’ll need to see your dentist for a professional cleaning. This will remove any build-up of plaque or tartar on your teeth. Next, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments or toothpaste. Fluoride helps to remineralize your teeth and make them stronger. Finally, if the damage is severe, your dentist may suggest bonding, veneers, or crowns to repair some of the damage.
In this blog post, we’ve discussed what dental erosion is and some of the things that can contribute to it. We’ve also gone over how to prevent and treat this condition. If you think you may be experiencing dental erosion, be sure to see your dentist as soon as possible!