Most people know tooth enamel as the hard, visible shell that forms on teeth. This highly mineralized substance is more than meets the eye and plays a crucial role in protecting the teeth from decay.
Enamel can vary in color from grayish white to light yellow but since it’s semi-translucent, it is only partially responsible for the color of your teeth. While it is the hardest substance in the body, it can wear down over time. Enamel erosion can occur for a wide range of reasons, such as teeth grinding, chronic acid reflux, low salivary flow, and regular use of certain medications. What you eat can also impact your enamel. For example, sugary and acidic foods can cause enamel erosion.
It is important to be aware of the signs that could indicate that your enamel is wearing down. A Clermont dentist at Hancock Village Dental can also help you determine if enamel erosion has occurred and to what degree.
Increased Teeth Sensitivity
If you have been experiencing increased sensitivity of your teeth, it may be due to enamel erosion. This is one of the most common signs of enamel loss and is caused when the protective coating of the tooth wears away, exposing the softer and more sensitive dentin layer. Teeth sensitivity may occur when consuming very hot or cold food or beverages, when brushing your teeth, or when your gums are exposed to air.
Dents on the Tooth Surface
Dents that develop on the tooth surface can occur when enamel erosion progresses over time. Referred to by dentists as cupping, these pits or indentations on the tooth surface often occur when acids in the mouth wear away the enamel and dentin. When cupping occurs, it increases a person’s risk of further damage. If not promptly treated, a case of cupping can lead to scratches, chips, or cracks in the teeth.
When a substantial amount of enamel wears away from the tooth, the yellowish dentin layer becomes more visible. This can give the tooth a yellowish appearance. This differs from yellow stains that can appear on the tooth’s surface due to smoking and the consumption of certain foods and beverages. In addition to taking on a more yellow appearance, the teeth may look more translucent, dull, and can lose their natural shine.
Rounded or Rough Edges
The outer edges of your teeth are most at risk for acid erosion as they are the weakest and tend to take on the brunt of the damage. As enamel continues to wear down, the edges of the teeth no longer remain smooth. Instead, they can take on a rounded and rough appearance. If the problem is not promptly remedied, it can lead to cracks and chips in the teeth.
Tooth Decay and Fracturing
As the protective layer of your teeth breaks down, your teeth become more susceptible to tooth decay. Decay or ‘cavities’ are permanently damaged areas on the teeth that develop into small holes. Cavities can have many causes such as frequent snacking, bacteria in the mouth, sipping sugary beverages, and not cleaning your teeth well. If your enamel is left to grow weaker, the tooth as a whole can suffer. In time, the tooth structure can begin to break down resulting in painful fractures.
Preventing Tooth Enamel Loss
There are many steps you can take to protect your teeth and prevent further enamel loss. First, cut down on acidic foods and drinks such as citrus fruits, juices, and sodas. If you do eat or drink something acidic, rinse your mouth out with water directly after consumption. Using a straw when drinking fruit juices and sodas can help the acidity bypass your teeth. You can also lower the amount of acid in your mouth by chewing sugar-free gum.
If you are experiencing any signs of enamel loss, speak with a dentist in Clermont, FL about your concerns. The Clermont family dentistry team at Hancock Village Dental will examine your teeth and identify signs of excessive enamel wear or associated decay. For more information about enamel erosion or to schedule an appointment, reach out to the dental professionals at Hancock Village Dental.