Tooth enamel erosion can be painful, but there are ways to reduce symptoms and strengthen your enamel — both at home and at the dentist’s office.
Your tooth enamel is tough. It protects the sensitive inner core of your teeth from the chemicals that might cause damage. Healthy enamel also insulates your teeth from extreme temperatures and fends off blunt force with its strong outer shell.
But even though enamel may be one of the strongest substances in the human body, it can still wear down if it is constantly exposed to corrosive chemicals and unhealthy habits. When you experience enamel erosion, your teeth can become sensitive, vulnerable to infection, and even downright painful. In this article, we take a look at how enamel erosion occurs and what you can do to treat it.
What Causes Enamel Loss?
Enamel is a rock hard mineral that your body produces to protect the sensitive inner core of your teeth. Your enamel is made of calcium and phosphate crystals, and it has no blood flow — in fact, enamel has only a trace of organic materials. Even though enamel is strong, it can break down without proper care. Enamel loss can be caused by a variety of factors, the most common of which are exposure to acid and chronic pressure.
Exposure to acid dissolves your enamel, and unfortunately, acid is regularly found in a variety of foods and beverages. Soda, fruit juice, coffee, wine, and sugary snacks are all common causes of enamel erosion. You should also beware of starchy foods, which break down into sugar after contact with your saliva and cause acidification.
Stomach acid is another major contributor to enamel erosion. If you have acid reflux, gastrointestinal problems, or are struggling with a mental health condition that triggers vomiting (such as bulimia or alcoholism), your enamel can quickly wear down.
Chronic pressure on your enamel can also lead to enamel loss. Even though enamel is stronger than bone, regularly grinding your teeth can erode the hydroxyapatite crystals in your enamel over time.
How Can I Prevent Enamel Loss?
Preventing enamel mostly involves managing your diet and gut health. Try to minimize your consumption of acidic and sugary foods and beverages. If you are a daily coffee, juice, or soda drinker, think about cutting back your intake. If you have a gastrointestinal condition that allows stomach acid to reach your teeth, consult your primary care physician for treatment. Finally, if you do grind your teeth, consult your dentist for a mouth guard to reduce the impact of grinding.
To minimize your chance of enamel loss and most other dental issues, you should always remember to brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, and to floss at least once a day.
Can Your Reverse Enamel Loss?
If you’re already feeling sensitivity in your teeth, there is a chance that enamel erosion has already occurred. The bad news is, once your enamel has eroded, it won’t grow back. Because enamel is mostly inorganic, your body can’t regenerate it once it’s lost. Now for the good news: enamel can be remineralized with fluoride treatment.
Fluoride treatment helps to add calcium to the surface of your teeth, which can bond to your enamel and strengthen its surface. Fluoride treatment is most successful at your dentist’s office, where your dentist can apply a fluoride gel that reacts with your enamel to strengthen its surface. You can also apply fluoride in smaller doses using fluoride toothpaste and fluoride mouthwash.
Visit your dentist if you suspect you have enamel erosion. If your teeth are sensitive or painful to the touch — especially directly after you consume sugary foods or acidic beverages — you may be experiencing enamel erosion. For clinical fluoride treatments and other enamel solutions, request an appointment at Espire today. We offer qualified and friendly dental care in offices across the Denver metro. Your smile is too important to wait!