Our teeth are made up of several distinct elements. The visible white area of the teeth is known as the enamel, and although thin, is the hardest substance in the human body. Enamel is also semi-clear, and while we might think our teeth are white, what we actually see in the mirror is the dentin layer shining through the enamel.
The enamel on our teeth comes under attack whenever we eat or drink, and in time the enamel can erode, leading to cavities and more, which might result in a trip to the dentist. It is worth remembering that tooth enamel, unlike other tissues in the body, is not self-regenerating. When we break a bone, it will grow and heal over time, but when tooth enamel becomes eroded or damaged, it is lost.
Enamel erosion occurs when acids in the mouth attack and weaken the enamel, and can be caused by food and drink, cases of dry mouth, acid reflux and some medications among others. Clenching and grinding of teeth and excessive force when brushing can also attribute to tooth enamel erosion.
Saliva is a key element in the protection against tooth erosion. Saliva is produced by salivary glands in the mouth, and seeks to keep a person’s mouth free of harmful bacteria and acids by rinsing them away and coating the teeth with protective calcium and minerals in order to help strengthen them.
Dry mouth instances can see saliva production reduced, so harmful bacteria and acids have an opportunity to eat into the tooth’s enamel.
When teeth experience enamel erosion, they become more susceptible to cavities or tooth decay. Often, small cavities may form, but in time these cavities can grow in size as tooth decay sets in. A dentist can drill out decay and fill the tooth, however, before the issue becomes more serious and the tooth may become infected or worse.
Early indications of tooth enamel erosion include increased sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks, discoloration of teeth as more dentin is exposed, cracking or chipping of teeth, indentations forming on the surface of teeth and pain.
Are you experiencing symptoms of enamel erosion? Contact the office of Drs. Adam Tan and Stephen Crosby to schedule an appointment and restore your smile today.