Tooth Erosion Causes and Treatments
The protective, outer layer of our teeth, called the enamel, can wear away over time, resulting in tooth erosion. Tooth erosion can lead to many dental problems, like decay and root canal infections, but it can be prevented. If tooth erosion has already progressed, restorative dentistry treatments can repair damage and restore oral health. Find out more about tooth erosion treatments in this overview from Brooklyn cosmetic dentist Eugene D. Stanislaus.
What Causes Tooth Erosion?
Tooth erosion occurs as the outer enamel of the teeth is worn away. As the enamel wears away, the teeth are left vulnerable to decay, root canal infections, and in severe cases, tooth loss. Tooth erosion has many causes and, if left untreated, can lead to a variety of dental problems. Some common causes of tooth erosion include:
- Poor oral hygiene: Poor oral hygiene leaves food remnants, bacteria, and plaque on the teeth, all of which erode enamel.
- Consuming acidic, sugary foods and drinks: Acids and sugars in foods and drinks can also cause tooth erosion. Sugary soft drinks are particularly harmful to tooth enamel.
- Dry mouth: Dry mouth is a condition in which not enough saliva is produced. Saliva is important for washing away food, plaque, and bacteria from the teeth, as well as neutralizing acids within the mouth. When not enough saliva is produced, the teeth are at greater risk of erosion.
- Chronic teeth grinding: Regular teeth grinding can cause enamel erosion from the friction created by the teeth rubbing together.
- Acid reflux: Stomach acids can erode dental enamel. Acid reflux brings stomach acid into contact with the teeth.
- Frequent vomiting: As with acid reflux, vomiting allows stomach acid to come into contact with the teeth. Those who suffer from frequent vomiting, such as binge drinkers and certain eating disorders, are highly vulnerable to tooth erosion.
- Aggressive tooth brushing: Applying too much pressure or using a hard bristled toothbrush can actually be harmful to the teeth. Aggressive brushing can wear away the enamel, leading to tooth erosion.
Treating Tooth Erosion
By avoiding the causes of tooth erosion, you can prevent it from happening. Though prevention is best when it comes to tooth erosion, there are many treatments that can restore the damage caused by tooth erosion. The type of treatment used depends on the extent of tooth erosion, which is best determined by your dentist. Treatments for tooth erosion include:
- Tooth-colored fillings: Cavities caused by tooth erosion can be repaired with tooth-colored fillings.
- Inlays and onlays: Like tooth-colored fillings, inlays and onlays can be used to treat mild to moderate dental damage caused by tooth erosion.
- Porcelain veneers: Mild enamel erosion on the front facing teeth can be repaired with porcelain veneers, for a natural, cosmetically pleasing appearance.
- Porcelain Crowns: Teeth with extensive damage as a result of unchecked tooth erosion can be restored with porcelain crowns.
- Dental implants: In severe cases, untreated dental damage can lead to tooth loss or extraction. In such cases, dental implant treatment offers a permanent solution to replace missing teeth.