Do you feel a sharp pinching pain while having sugary drinks despite your teeth looking smooth and shiny outside? It’s not a good sign. You might be heading towards enamel erosion.
How to Fix Enamel Erosion?
Enamel erosion is curable but irreversible. Enamel is the outer layer of your teeth that protects the inner teeth from wear and tear. In fact, It is stronger than bones and any tissue of your body.
It is also called the first defense layer of your teeth that protects them from chemicals and substances they are exposed to regularly. However, when it gets damaged, it’s called enamel erosion, and it could be painful and dangerous for the sufferer.
Below we have talked about enamel erosion and answered ‘how to fix tooth enamel erosion.” If you are concerned about your dental health, then keep on reading.
What is Enamel Erosion?
Simply, enamel erosion is the loss of enamel or the outer stronger layer of your teeth due to poor diet or dental hygiene.
Consuming too many acidic and sugary drinks causes the loss of enamel as acid softens the outer layer and makes it easy to get damaged. The reason why it is called such a dreadful condition is that enamel doesn’t contain regenerative cells. This means that once it is damaged, it cannot be treated or re-grow on its own. The only way to then left to protect your teeth is through dental procedures.
What are the Symptoms of Enamel Erosion?
Enamel erosion symptoms can vary. It can be either detected as physical damage or felt like toothache or sensitivity.
Here are the most common symptoms of enamel erosion:
- Increased sensitivity to temperature, taste and texture
- Chips and cracks
- Teeth discoloration
- Slight indentations on the chewing teeth’s surface
In severe cases, you might feel:
- Sharp pain
- High sensitivity when consuming hot, cold, acidic or spicy foods and drinks
- Next level teeth discoloration
The persistent condition can lead to the following conditions:
- Extremely sensitive teeth
- Yellow or stained teeth
- Rough or uneven edges on the teeth
- Shiny spots
- Increased tooth decay
- Translucent or clear teeth due to enamel erosion
- Fractured teeth
If you experience tooth decay after enamel erosion, it’s nothing to be surprised about. Enamel erosion and tooth decay are co-related. Therefore, consult your dentist even when you feel slight discomfort after enamel erosion.
What Causes Enamel Erosion?
You must have been aware that calcium is essential for bones. However, it is also vital for strong and healthy teeth. When calcium is depleted from your teeth, it eventually weakens your enamel and damages it. And guess what’s the reason behind the calcium loss from the teeth? Acid!
Whether it’s an internal health condition or your diet, enamel exposure to acids can cause it to be soft. When the enamel becomes soft, it gets more vulnerable. Having sugary drinks and foods in such conditions can faster enamel erosion together with acids. Hence, it proves that enamel erosion and tooth decay are interlinked.
It’s evident that diet plays a crucial role in dental health, especially enamel erosion. Following, we have compiled a list of food items that plays a major part in enamel erosion.
- Alcohol: as mentioned earlier, acids majorly contribute to enamel erosion. Alcohol or wine, in particular, is loaded with sugar and acid and causes dehydration.
- Fresh Juice: Fresh juice or fruit juice has always been thought of as a healthy drink choice however, that's not the case all the time. Some fruits are rich in acidic content. For instance, lemon, orange, cranberry, Apple and grapefruit are all major sources of acid and can weaken your enamel.
- Sour candy: As thrilling as it is to try sour candies, they are not so beneficial for oral health. They are fairly high in acidic content. Hence, they weaken your enamel and cause sugars to attach more easily. With the gummy factor involved, it’s probably not the best thing to have for fun.
- Citrus Fruit: Some citrus fruits and vegetables like lemon, orange, grapefruit and tomato can affect your enamel health due to their acidic nature.
- Carbonated Drinks: Sodas and carbonated drinks are the worst choices for drinks. Apart from being loaded with sugars, they are extremely high in acid. So even if you have a sugar-free carbonated drink, you are causing equal harm to your enamel as sugary drinks.
- Sports Drink: If you think sports drinks could be a healthy alternative to carbonated drinks, think again. They are almost as bad as carbonated drinks due to their high acid content. Moreover, sports drinks can further damage acids like citric and phosphoric acid.
With such a vast list of food items to avoid, you must be wondering how to remember not to eat any of them. We have a solution for that too. Before having any drink, make sure it is not carbonated and doesn’t contain alcohol and acids (citric and phosphoric acids).
Health Issues that contribute to Enamel Erosion
Certain health conditions like digestive issues play a vital role in enamel erosion. Here we have mentioned some common health conditions that are connected to enamel erosion:
- GERD/Acid Reflux: Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as acid reflux, can cause serious enamel erosion. It particularly affects the back side of your teeth. Your dentist will know that you have acid refluxes from your tooth condition without you telling.
- Diabetes: As most of us already know, diabetes affects the entire body including teeth as well. Being an inflammatory condition it can cause severe tooth problems leading to decay, enamel erosion, tooth loss and gum disease.
- Eating Disorders: Eating disorders like Anorexia and Bulimia can be the underlying reasons for permanent enamel damage. In Bulimia, your teeth are exposed to acids due to vomiting, while in the second condition, erosion happens due to the depletion of calcium in the body.
- TMD: Oral health issues linked to jaw muscles, nerves and Temporomandibular joints come under the umbrella of TMD (Temporomandibular Disorders). Its symptoms include abnormal chewing, grinding, clenching etc. the disorder causes physical damage to the outer layer of your teeth due to excessive chipping, wear and cracking.
- Medications: Certain medications like Antidepressants and Antihistamines affect dental health. For instance, Antidepressants can be rich in acid, and cause your mouth to dry, eventually leading to tooth decay. Similarly, Antihistamines can threaten gum health and cause dry mouth and gum issues.
- Genetic disorders: Another prime cause for enamel erosion could be genetic disorders. Amelogenesis imperfecta or enamel hypoplasia is a genetic condition that causes enamel erosion and affects tooth development.
Eating habits and medications have a lot to do with enamel erosion. Therefore, it is better to consult your dentist before taking any of our stated medications to prevent the damage.
How to Fix Enamel Erosion?
As discussed earlier, enamel damage is irreversible. Once your enamel is gone, there’s no way you can put it back naturally. However, certain dental treatments are done to protect the teeth’s outer surface from further damage.
The first thing that should be done is to find a dentist with experience in enamel erosion treatments. He/she will focus on re-building your teeth’s structure, which will later be protected from further damage.
Following are the treatments that your dentist will likely suggest for enamel restoration:
- Fillings: Dentists often suggest dental fillings for minor enamel or tooth erosion. However, it won’t work for treating severe damages.
- Bonding: If your teeth seem to have gone through severe damage due to enamel erosion, your doctor may recommend bonding. In this treatment, a resin material similar to your tooth’s color is applied to the affected parts. This will help close gaps, cover discoloration and improve teeth's shape.
- Crown or Veneer: When your teeth are severely damaged due to enamel erosion, your dentist may go for a crown or veneer. When they are placed on the damaged tooth, it protects the tooth and restores its strength.
- Sealant: Sealants are another useful treatment done to restore enamel erosion. It is a thin, light protective coating applied to your teeth to cover the pits and groove and restore the tooth’s shape. It is mostly applied to the back teeth.
Depending on the type of enamel erosion and the damage level, your dentist might need to go for a root canal or even extraction in severe cases. Therefore, it is important to visit your dentist every six months to diagnose early signs of erosion and start the prevention process.
How to Prevent Enamel Erosion?
Dental enamel erosion is permanent damage. What has been done cannot be reversed. Thereby, prevention is a must, especially if you have been facing erosion and decay issues earlier.
Here we have listed some of the most effective tips to prevent enamel erosion:
Limit Acidic Foods Consumption
Although dental enamel is the strongest substance in the body, certain substances like acids and sugar can break it down. Thereby Dr. Ogbevoen suggested, “Limit the amount of acidic foods and drinks. Drinks such as sports drinks, sodas, and sparkling waters tend to get people in the most trouble.” however, if you really want to drink it, then make sure you use a straw as “using a straw when drinking acidic beverages such as flavored seltzer or sports drinks minimizes the contact with the teeth.”
Cut Down on Sugar
Apart from causing chronic health conditions, sugars are one of the primary reasons for enamel erosion. As Dr. Ogbevoen says, “Sorry! But the bacteria in our mouths break down these sugars [from candies and sweet foods] and produce acids during the process.” Therefore, it’s important to limit all forms of sugar intake.
Take Care of Your Oral Hygiene
If you are unable to cut back on your favorite stuff like sugars, soda and wine, Dr. Ogbevoen has a plan for you. “After eating acidic or sweet foods, rinse with water,” said the dentist. “Then try to brush [within] an hour after consumption.” While it won’t treat the already done damage, it surely will prevent potential consequences.
“The softer, the better,” says the dentist. “Avoid physical trauma to the enamel by brushing too hard. Brushing too hard can cause abrasion to the enamel.” You don’t have to be too hard on your teeth to clean them up. Gentle cleaning will do what’s required. “A toothbrush with soft bristles is recommended by dental healthcare providers.”
Mental and digestive distress can affect your oral health. Yes, that’s true. It can be a reason for your deteriorating dental health. In fact, Dr. Ogbevoen says, “Another source of trauma to the enamel can occur from grinding.” He further said that “approximately eight percent of all adults grind their teeth, and stress is a major contributor to nocturnal grinding. If you suspect that you may be grinding from stress, ask your dentist if a night guard would be appropriate.”
Use the Right Toothpaste
“The best defense is a strong offense!” And we couldn’t agree more with Dr. Ogbevoen. “Help strengthen and remineralize your enamel with your daily oral hygiene routine. Using a toothpaste and mouth rinse that have fluoride — plus flossing daily — will keep your pearly whites as strong as possible.”
While looking for a toothpaste for enamel protection, ensure it has added calcium, potassium, and fluoride.
Here are our top picks for the best toothpaste:
1) 3M Clinpro 5000
3M Clinpro 5000 is the dentist’s most recommended toothpaste for maintaining good oral health. It contains fluoride to keep the teeth stronger and healthier. It contains sodium fluoride and tri-calcium phosphate that works to demineralize the enamel.
2) Sensodyne Pronamel
You must have come across this brand of toothpaste as it is suggested by doctors to treat sensitive teeth. However, the Pronamel version is specially formulated to protect and strengthen enamel by providing nourishment through substances like potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride. It also claims to repair weaken enamel.
3) Crest Pro-Health Advanced
The Crest Pro-Health Advanced is an American Dental Association (ADA) certified toothpaste for treating plaque, enamel erosion and gingivitis. It contains stannous fluoride and has a fresh, minty taste. It has been proven to be more effective than fluorides.
Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse enamel erosion. Once it is depleted, you can never grow it back, either naturally or artificially. However, some ways can help reduce the damage, for instance, using crowns, veneers, sealants or bonding etc.
If you take professional advice, start considering the above prevention methods from today, as 46% of adults in the US have early signs of erosion. Also, go for dental checkups every six months so that if there are any symptoms of enamel erosion, they can be tackled instantly.
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