If you're an adult concerned about your dental care, you may do all you can to keep your mouth clean and healthy. But one of the things you might not focus on is keeping your tooth enamel safe from erosion. Tooth erosion, also called dental erosion, occurs when the hard layer of enamel wears down from food acids and other causes. The problem leaves the tissues beneath your enamel vulnerable to bacteria and other dental hazards. With the right knowledge and tips, you can take steps to protect your enamel. Here's information about your tooth enamel, how tooth erosion affects you and what you can do to slow it down.
What's Tooth Erosion?
Although your enamel is the hardest substance in your body, once you lose it to erosion, you can't get it back. Unlike your bones, cells and hair, tooth enamel doesn't make itself or regrow. Because of these unique facts, it's important that you watch what you expose your tooth enamel to.
While you may already know that eating and drinking sugary and acidic food and beverages can erode your tooth enamel, you may not know that eating healthy foods, such as chicken, potatoes and cantaloupe, can potentially cause acid erosion as well. The carbohydrates found in food can create plaque on your teeth if you don't brush and floss properly after meals. Plaque releases strong acids that mix with bacteria to break down your enamel.
In addition to food acids, the toothpaste you use to remove stains from your teeth may also affect your enamel. A number of toothpaste products contain chemicals, additives and small beads considered too abrasive on your enamel. Abrasive products can wear down the surfaces of your enamel over time. You may not notice the damage until you expose your enamel to things that aggravate it, such as ice cream, candy or hot chocolate. Your teeth become sensitive to hot, cold and sweets.
Along with the sensory changes in your teeth, your enamel develops physical problems, such as discoloration and damage. Your enamel may look darker than it previously did. For instance, your teeth may go from appearing off-white to dark yellow or grayish in color. This is usually caused by the exposure of dentin, which is the colored layer hidden beneath your enamel. You may also develop small chips and cracks along the bite edges and chewing surfaces of your teeth.
To stop the harmful effects of dental erosion, take action now.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Teeth?
One of the most important things you can do to protect your enamel is see a dental provider for care. A dentist can examine your enamel to see if the erosion caused irreversible problems in your front and back teeth. If you have problems with your front teeth, a dentist may rebuild and protect them with a bonding material. The material comes in natural tooth shades, which helps cover up the discoloration in your teeth.
For issues in your back teeth, a dentist may cover them with artificial crowns to keep the damages from becoming worse. Crowns look just like your natural teeth. So, you won't notice that you have them unless you look very closely.
If you don't have problems in your back teeth yet, a dentist may place sealants on them to help prevent issues in the future. Dentists usually place dental sealants on the back teeth of kids to help ward off tooth decay. However, adults can also benefit from the treatments. Sealants not only protect against erosion, they can also reduce or stop the destructive effects of tooth decay in general.
Sealants typically come in a liquid form, which makes it easier for a dentist to apply the treatments to the small indentations and crevice of your back teeth. Once applied, sealants can last up to 10 years. A dentist can check the sealants during your regularly scheduled visits to ensure that they're still in place.
For more information about tooth erosion, contact a dental provider today.