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Protect Yourself from Tooth Erosion: Causes and Treatments

Dr. Melina Cozby Jun 30, 2015

A close-up of a woman undergoing a dental examWhen the outer layer of the teeth, the enamel, begins to wear away or erode, the teeth are left vulnerable to decay. Unfortunately, once enamel is lost, it will not replenish itself, making tooth erosion particularly damaging to oral health. Thankfully, restorative dentistry treatments can help repair the damage caused by tooth erosion. Find out more about the causes and treatments of tooth erosion in this overview from our team at Forney Family Dentistry.

The Causes of Tooth Erosion

Tooth erosion occurs when the protective enamel layer of the teeth is worn away. As tooth erosion progresses, the inner structure of the teeth becomes exposed, eventually leading to increased dental sensitivity and, more notably, more vulnerable to tooth decay.

Tooth erosion can occur for a number of reasons. By knowing the causes, you'll be better able to prevent tooth erosion. Tooth erosion can be caused by:

  • Poor oral hygiene: Poor oral hygiene leaves food particles and plaque on the teeth, attracting bacteria, which emit acids that eat away at the enamel.
  • Consuming a diet high in sugary, acidic foods: Foods and drinks high in acid and/or sugar levels are a leading cause of tooth erosion. Foods high in acid, like citrus fruits and soft drinks, can weaken the enamel and lead to tooth erosion. Sugary foods attract bacteria, and consumption should be limited.
  • Dry mouth: Dry mouth is a result of insufficient saliva production. Those who suffer from dry mouth are at increased risk of tooth erosion. This is because saliva helps to wash away food remnants from the teeth and neutralize acid.
  • Acid reflux: Acid reflux can allow stomach acids to reach the teeth and, like all other acids, stomach acid can erode dental enamel.
  • Frequent vomiting: As with acid reflux, frequent vomiting allows stomach acids to come into contact with the teeth.
  • Teeth grinding: Tooth erosion can be caused by friction, like in the case of chronic teeth grinding. Teeth grinding can wear down the biting surface of the teeth, damaging more than the enamel.
  • Aggressive brushing: Aggressive tooth brushing can also erode the teeth through friction. Aggressive toothbrushing may involve brushing with too much force or using a hard-bristled toothbrush.

Tooth Erosion Treatments

Regardless of the degree of tooth erosion, there are restorative dentistry treatments available to address your specific needs. Some treatments you may want to consider include:

  • Dental crowns: Porcelain dental crowns are tooth-shaped restorations that completely cover a damaged tooth to restore appearance and function. Dental crowns are useful for saving damaged teeth from requiring extraction.
  • Porcelain veneers: Porcelain veneers are thin fabrications that cover the front surface of the teeth.
  • Inlays and onlays: In cases where tooth erosion has led to decay or wear on the biting surface of the teeth, inlays and onlays may be placed. Inlays and onlays are tooth-colored restorations used to repair decay within the biting surfaces of the molars. Onlays are even used to restore larger portions of the teeth, including the cusps.
  • Dental implants: In some cases, tooth erosion can lead to tooth loss. Dental implants can be used to permanently replace missing teeth to restore your smile and confidence.

Find Out Which Treatments Are Right for You

Don't let tooth erosion get out of hand. Schedule a consultation at Forney Family Dentistry for your personalized treatment plan.

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