Tooth enamel erosion and wear weaken the overall structure of your smile, exposing you to an increased risk for tooth decay (cavities), dental chips and cracks, and infection in or around the tooth. In this blog, we will discuss the 10 most common causes of tooth enamel erosion and how we can help protect and repair damaged smiles.
1 – CONSUMPTION OF ACIDIC OR SUGARY FOODS & DRINKS
Eating and drinking foods and beverages that are high in sugar and acid can slowly eat away at the tooth’s enamel. Luckily, it takes time for enamel to erode, and by eliminating or reducing consumption of sugary foods and drinks and caring for your smile properly, you should be able to avoid the majority of enamel erosion.
Specifically, we recommend not sipping sodas or fruit juices for long periods, snacking on sugary sweets, or allowing these foods and drinks to sit on your teeth. Instead, we encourage you to drink plenty of water. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it also flushes out any harmful particles and keeps your salivary glands working at an optimal level.
If you want to enjoy something sweet, make sure that you rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth to limit the amount of time these damaging foods and drinks remain inside your mouth.
2 – CHRONIC DRY MOUTH
Saliva helps to break down food to aid in the digestive process. It also neutralizes plaque, the acidic byproduct of oral bacteria. When the body fails to produce adequate amounts of saliva, the acids inside the mouth cannot be defused. As a result, teeth are exposed to higher levels of acidity, and the enamel faces damage.
3 – ACID REFLUX (GERD)
When there is dysfunction within the digestive tract, stomach contents can re-enter the esophagus and the mouth. Also referred to as chronic acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), this condition exposes the tooth enamel to highly damaging stomach acid that quickly eats through even the strongest tooth enamel. In most cases, individuals with GERD experience enamel wear or weakening of the teeth in the back of the mouth first.
Your dentist in Greenbelt can often identify if acid reflux or GERD is the reason for your dental erosion during a regular checkup, but you’ll need to work with a local physician to treat your condition and avoid further damage to your tooth enamel.
4 – CERTAIN PRESCRIPTION OR OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDICATIONS
Allergy medications, aspirin, and prescription medicines (i.e., blood pressure, antidepressants) can cause reduced saliva production, which increases the risk of dental wear by causing dry mouth. It is also believed that antacids, no matter if they’re chewable, dissolvable, liquid or pills, can weaken your tooth enamel and lead to the development of decay. This is because the chewable antacids often contain sugar. Proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec can cause dry mouth. Saliva helps wash food and debris from your mouth.
5 – GENETICS
Some individuals have naturally thinner tooth enamel, which means they are more likely to experience erosion and the potentially adverse effects of dental wear. This is why it is important that you maintain regular dental checkups and cleanings with your dentist to ensure that no additional harm is developing on your teeth. It may also be beneficial to undergo fluoride treatment to help strengthen existing tooth enamel.
6 – TEETH GRINDING & CLENCHING
Teeth grinding and clenching, often referred to as bruxism, is an unconscious habit that places pressure on the biting surfaces of teeth, leading to dental wear and tooth enamel erosion when left untreated.
The most common method of treatment for this type of problem is to inquire about a customized mouthguard that you can wear while you sleep. It serves as a protective barrier, keeping your upper and lower arches from touching throughout the night. This minimizes future damage that can result in increased sensitivity, tooth decay, and gum recession.
7 – MISALIGNED BITE
When your bite isn’t properly aligned, the teeth may wear against each other unevenly, leading to eroded tooth enamel, deep pits in the surfaces of teeth, and even jaw joint dysfunction.
Meeting with your dentist to discuss the potential for orthodontics (braces) or another alignment solution, might be the only way to straighten your teeth and bite while also preventing continued dental wear. Braces will also serve to reduce chronic jaw pain that can often lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
8 – POOR ORAL HYGIENE
Poor oral hygiene can also play a part in dental erosion. When you fail to stay on top of the following, you put yourself at greater risk:
- Fail to brush and floss as recommended each day
- Avoid visiting your dentist twice a year for preventive dentistry appointments
- Neglect proper mouth protection while playing sports or if suffering from bruxism
- Avoid bad dental habits can lead to enamel erosion and increased risk for tooth decay and damage (i.e., nail-biting, eating ice, chewing on inanimate objects, using your teeth as tools)
9 – AGING
As we age, teeth naturally begin to wear away due to a lifetime of daily use. Improved oral hygiene and an increased emphasis on preventive dentistry mean teeth stay healthy longer, but natural wear and tear will eventually impact every smile. This is why it is essential that even as you mature, you take proper care of your teeth and gums.
10 – POOR NUTRITION
A lack of essential nutrients in the diet to build and maintain healthy cells can lead to enamel wear and diminished overall health. Enamel erosion due to poor nutrition may be a result of not eating the right blend of nutrient-rich foods. It is also associated with disordered eating habits like anorexia and bulimia. Making sure you incorporate plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, and lean proteins can help not only improve gum health but also protect against tooth decay and enamel erosion.
TREATMENT & PREVENTION OF TOOTH ENAMEL EROSION
First and foremost, our team always recommends that patients care for their teeth with the right daily oral hygiene routine and regular visits to our dental office for checkups and teeth cleanings. This can help individuals avoid severe tooth erosion and dental wear, but when it occurs, we also offer cosmetic and restorative dentistry solutions, including:
- Dental bonding
- Tooth-colored fillings
- Dental crowns
- Root canal therapy
- Tooth replacement options
Once tooth enamel is gone, it cannot grow back, so it is important to take care of it. By adopting exceptional oral hygiene habits, maintaining six-month checkups and cleanings, avoiding bad habits, eating a healthy diet, and taking additional precautions to safeguard your teeth, you’ll enjoy a healthier, longer-lasting smile year after year.
About the McCarl Dental Group
At the McCarl Dental Group, we’ve been serving Greenbelt, MD since 1924, and families in our community know they can trust our skilled dentists with their oral healthcare needs. If you’re ready to protect or repair your smile, contact the McCarl Dental Group team today. We look forward to hearing from you.