Does your tooth feel weak and vulnerable? Do you experience unusual sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures? Many patients who experience symptoms such as these assume that the tooth has been damaged by tooth decay. These are actually side effects that are just as likely the result of tooth erosion. At his cosmetic dentistry practice, Dr. Byron W. Wall helps his Albuquerque patients understand tooth erosion and its probable causes.
What Is Tooth Erosion?
It is important for patients to understand that tooth erosion and tooth decay are two different things. Tooth decay is a condition in which plaque and tartar slowly eat away at the tooth’s enamel and form small holes or “cavities” on the surface of the tooth. Tooth erosion is the gradual breakdown of the tooth’s enamel due to exposure to acid. Acid erosion wears away at the tooth’s protective layer, making it weaker and leaving the tooth vulnerable to damage.
Causes of Tooth Erosion
For many patients, the cause of tooth erosion can be linked to an over-exposure to acid. However, there are many possible reasons that a patient’s teeth would be exposed to acid. Some common sources of acid exposure and tooth erosion include:
- Repeated exposure to soft drinks, which are surprisingly high in phosphoric and citric acids
- The consumption of certain fruit juices (such as orange juice and grapefruit juice) that are highly acidic
- Gastrointestinal problems such as acid reflux or eating disorders such as bulimia that cause the teeth to be frequently exposed to stomach acid
While tooth erosion is frequently linked to acid exposure, there are other possible sources of tooth erosion. Additional habits or conditions that can cause tooth erosion include,
- Dry mouth, which leaves the mouth unable to naturally wash away acid, bacteria, and food particles that can damage the teeth
- The use of certain medications (such as aspirin and antihistamines) that can wear away at the tooth’s enamel
- Unusual wear and tear due to habits such as nail biting and bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Genetics, which can cause a patient to be naturally susceptible to tooth erosion
Treating Tooth Erosion
Patients can prevent tooth erosion by avoiding acidic food and beverages and maintaining good oral health habits such as regular brushing and flossing. Professional dental exams and cleanings are also helpful in keeping the teeth clean and detecting tooth erosion in its earliest stages. Unfortunately, the damage that has already been caused by tooth erosion cannot be reversed. However, Dr. Wall can restore the strength of the tooth with restorative dental procedures. Dental crowns are particularly successful in restoring a tooth that has been damaged by tooth erosion. Dental crowns fit over the damaged tooth to provide strength and protection.
Schedule an Appointment
Dr. Byron W. Wall offers dental services to meet all your oral health and cosmetic needs in a setting that is both friendly and comfortable. If you believe that your dental health could use some improvement or if you are worried about the effects of acid erosion, schedule an appointment with Dr. Wall at your earliest convenience.