“Enamel erosion.” Those are two words that every dental patient doesn’t want to hear. This means that they have a problem with their teeth that’s a bit more complicated than a cavity. Enamel erosion occurs when the outer covering the teeth begins to wear away, exposing the underlying surface. There are several reasons why this happens, all of which we’ll get into here.
What Is Tooth Enamel?
We’ve covered it briefly above, but you do need to know that tooth enamel is the outer covering of each tooth. It’s very hard and extremely resilient. It’s your teeth’s first barrier between everything that you put into your mouth and the inner layers of the tooth that are extremely sensitive.
You need to take care of your enamel since you only get the one layer of it. It won’t spontaneously regenerate over time. Without enamel, your teeth will become sensitive, stained, and even prone to breaking and cracking. This tough outer layer does quite a bit!
It’s Not the Same Thing as a Cavity
Enamel erosion and cavities are sometimes thought to be one and the same. They aren’t. Although enamel erosion can cause cavities, because inner sections of your teeth are more likely to break down when exposed to sugars and other cavity-causing things, the two conditions are not the same at all. The treatments are also quite different, although a regular dentist can take care of them.
On top of that, a cavity causes quite a bit of pain. You’ll know when you have one. The same isn’t true for enamel erosion. You might feel some increased sensitivity and other things (which we’ll get into next), but you may not even know that you have it until your dentist tells you.
How to Tell That You Have Enamel Erosion
The main symptoms of enamel erosion are increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages. You’ll also notice that the taste and texture of your foods have changed, even though you are eating and drinking the same things all of the time. This is something that may seem to come on suddenly, although it has no doubt been building up over time.
Other signs of enamel erosion include discolored teeth that do not respond to whitening treatments (even professional ones, although the dentist would repair the enamel before trying one), as well as cracks and chips in your teeth. You might also end up with more cavities than usual. Plus, you might see cup-like indentations in your teeth. These are a hallmark of advanced enamel erosion.
Complication of Erosion
Now that you know the signs of enamel erosion let’s go over some of the complications. These include staining – in particular; your teeth will appear to be very yellow. Others are shiny spots on your teeth, additional fractures and signs of tooth decay, and rough edges in certain spots. As the enamel wears down, your teeth will begin to look clear and slightly translucent. This, along with extremely sensitive teeth, are signs that your enamel erosion has reached its end and something must be done about it.
Thankfully, there are some ways to prevent your enamel from eroding further. Since it will not grow back, you can only hope to stop its progress and save your teeth. The better your oral hygiene is, the more likely it is that your enamel erosion will stop in its tracks. You’ll have to brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, remembering not to apply too much pressure while doing so. This will keep your enamel from eroding further.
Treating Enamel Erosion
The main issue here is the fact that tooth enamel doesn’t grow back. When it’s gone – it’s gone for good. Thankfully, there are some things that can be done by a professional dentist. One of these treatments is known as tooth bonding. This is a procedure that involves coating the teeth with a permanent resin. It protects the inner layers of the teeth, preventing it from breaking down entirely. Your tooth sensitivity issues with go away as well. On top of this, it can make your teeth look whiter, since as the enamel erodes, your teeth with begin to look permanently stained.
On a good note, it does take quite some time for tooth enamel to erode entirely. This means that if you go to the dentist regularly, he or she will catch the problem in time to potentially reverse it. The dental bonding procedure is usually only done once the damage is too far advanced to reverse.
Hopefully, this clears up some mysteries about tooth enamel and enamel erosion. This condition is completely treatable, as long as you catch it early – and it should never be confused with cavities.
Author Bio –
Sven Olsson, the author of this guest article, writes on behalf of Thantakit Dental Center, Thailand. For more details on how to keep your teeth healthy, make sure to check the Thantakit Dental Center Blog.