More than 33 per cent of adults and children worldwide have problems about tooth erosion. Aside from worries about the appearance, dental erosion may also cause discomfort and sensitivity because the dentin gets exposed. Acidic foods and drinks (including hot and cold beverages) can trigger the sensitivity. In addition, tooth erosion could also lead to the loss of teeth and other serious problems.
Front teeth wearing away
It’s especially the case with the front teeth wearing away. Often it might look thinner or less white because much the enamel layer has been stripped off. It could be the result of an acidic diet, medication side reactions or just vigorous brushing. Dry mouth, low salivary flow, diet high in sugar and starches, bruxism and friction, acid reflux disease, gastrointestinal problems and even genetics could also be blamed for enamel erosion.
Whichever is the case, the teeth become more vulnerable to physical and microbial attacks. Later on it could lead to toothaches, root canal treatment or extraction. In other words, the wearing away of teeth could result to costly and time-consuming treatments down the road. It also becomes a major inconvenience because of repeated visits to the dentist. The interruption to your work and daily living could be quite serious if dental erosion is not addressed immediately.
What can I do with tooth enamel erosion
It’s a good thing that you’ve already noticed that some of your teeth are wearing away. This awareness alone could already have saved you hundreds of dollars and probably huge inconveniences for later. That’s because with this awareness, you would have already made some adjustments to your diet and brushing. It’s a good start to keeping the enamel intact and preventing further damage to the teeth surface.
For instance, it’s good to cut back right now on acidic foods and beverages (and stay away from high-sugar foods for a while). Acids react with and help strip away the enamel surface (acids are known to dissolve a wide variety of hard substances and surfaces). What about high-sugar foods? How do they contribute to enamel erosion? Well, it’s about the sugar being processed into acids (could be waste product of bacteria from consuming glucose). The end result is the same which is the acids somehow dissolving the enamel material of our teeth.
In essence, the first and ongoing step towards preventing further enamel erosion is fixing our diet and implementing or maintaining good oral hygiene. This way there will be a lot lower amount of acids on our teeth and gums as well as lower numbers of bacteria because of our good oral hygiene. With fewer bacteria in our mouths (through brushing and rinsing with a mouthwash) there will be lower amounts of acids as well (and less power for the enamel to be dissolved).
Using a fluoride toothpaste is a given because fluoride helps strengthen teeth. It’s also important to hydrate or drink more water throughout the day if you have a dry mouth or low saliva volume (more water in our mouths means the acids become more diluted). Another important thing to do is to minimise the contact or stay of food and beverage particles on our teeth. We can easily do this by brushing after meal or avoiding snacking throughout the day (after snacking or consuming a meal the mouth becomes acidic for a few hours).
Damage control and beyond
Notice that it’s about controlling the damage and preventing it from becoming any worse. But is there a way to restore tooth enamel or totally stop erosion? Sealants may be helpful (as prescribed and done by the dentist) in preventing tooth decay and further enamel erosion. For stronger and more permanent protection, the dentist might cover the tooth with a crown or veneer. This is good for protecting the tooth against further tooth decay. Tooth bonding is also helpful especially if we’re talking about improving cosmetic appearance (flash a bright smile during social gatherings or business functions).
For ongoing protection (and in cases where erosion is just starting or minor), the use of low abrasion toothpaste is highly recommended. After all, the best protection is ongoing protection and prevention which is why it’s always good to start with what we do daily (brushing our teeth).
But can we actually restore the enamel? The bad news is that the enamel won’t grow back (at least in the present there are no medical capabilities yet) and the only thing we can do is to prevent further erosion. It’s now all about preserving our smiles through ongoing good oral hygiene. The dentist might place a protecting layer or surface but that’s all there is. The enamel won’t grow back because it doesn’t contain any living cells (the enamel is just a complex mineral substance) hence it cannot regenerate.
The good news is that you can still preserve your smile and stop further erosion. Your front teeth might have been already damaged and somehow worn out. Good thing is that you still have options on how to preserve or even improve your beautiful smile. This is important in feeling confident whenever facing people (or even just the mirror). More importantly, this is about preventing further tooth damage and achieving an excellent oral health. Awareness on this single aspect of your health and appearance can cascade on other aspects of your health and hygiene. Indeed, having an excellent oral health is one of the best steps towards better overall wellbeing and confidence.