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Dental Issues Author: Elsie Morgan Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Teeth for Life: Ways to Avoid Enamel Erosion and Save Your Smile

By Elsie Morgan
Dec 2, 2015 - 9:01:07 AM

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( - Most people don't think about enamel erosion. However, it's something that you should think more about because it's very common - especially as you get older. Here's what happens, how it happens, and how to avoid and treat it.

Most People Have Eroded Tooth Enamel

A new study shows that most adults have some measure of enamel erosion on their teeth. When researchers looked at 3,773 participants, they found 79 percent had evidence of dental erosion. A stunning 64 percent had mild tooth wear, with 10 percent having moderate wear and 5 percent showing signs of severe wear.

The participants in the study with moderate or severe tooth wear drank more soft drinks and juices every day than other groups.

Tooth Enamel Erosion: What Is It, Really?

The enamel on your teeth is the strongest substance in the human body. It's a semi-clear hard, outer layer that protects teeth from daily trauma and wear. Because teeth are used for biting, chewing, and tearing, the substance has to be hard enough to withstand all of this abuse. With normal use, your body can handle the abuse you give it.

But, novel foods like sodas and concentrated sugars in fruit juices are too much.

While enamel does guard against acids and chemicals, there is a limit to the protection the enamel can offer. When the shell starts to break down, it exposes the dentin underneath, and this is where cavities and other tooth problems may begin - when bacteria start to attack the enamel and then the underlying tooth structure.

What Causes Erosion?

There are several causes for enamel erosion, but one fundamental or underlying cause and that is bacteria. Bacteria in your mouth feed off sugars, and produce toxins and acids that erode your tooth enamel.

Acidic foods can also do the same thing, albeit in a slightly different way. They cause direct damage, whereas the damage caused by bacteria is secondary - a side effect of the bacteria feeding on sugary or starchy foods.

Dry mouth can also contribute to the condition because saliva helps prevent tooth decay by washing away bacteria acids. Acid reflux, bulimia, alcoholism, GERD, heartburn, drugs and some supplements with a lot of acid in them (like vitamin C), aspirin, or even just brushing too hard or grinding your teeth can cause erosion of the enamel.

Most people can prevent this from happening, however, by taking a few precautions. First, find yourself a good dentist through networks like Carefree Dental. Go to the dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.

Second, change your diet. Stop eating sugary foods, reduce your intake of alcohol, brush more consistently in the morning and before bed. Floss every day, twice a day and don't let acidic foods or liquids sit on your teeth.

What Are The Symptoms?

Most people don't know how erosion happens, or what it's caused by. But, when they do learn, they sometimes still don't know how to spot it. Here are some symptoms you should look out for:

Pain when eating hot or cold foods. The pain is sensitivity to temperature. Usually, you will not feel it if you are eating softer foods. You may feel sensitivity When breathing in cold air, but not warm air. Chewing ice usually triggers pain.

Sensitivity to sweet foods or drinks. This is a dead giveaway. When you can't eat a piece of candy or even sweet fruits without cringing, there's a problem and it's probably with your enamel.

Rough or uneven edges on the surface of the teeth. If you have any chipped teeth, or if your teeth feel like they have layers to them, with rough patches, you probably are missing some of your enamel.

You have smooth or shiny surface areas on teeth. It's counterintuitive, but this actually indicates a loss of minerals in the teeth.

Your teeth are yellow. This means that the enamel has worn down to a point where the dentin (which is naturally yellow) is showing through. This should not be confused with coffee or cigarette stains, however.

Cupping or dents. If your teeth are so soft that they bend, cup, or cave in or bow out when you bite, and cause sensitivity, you probably have taken the enamel down so far that the tooth has lost its structural integrity.

You need to go to a doctor (dentist) in any of these circumstances to have your mouth evaluated. There may be one or several options depending on how advanced and extensive the damage is.

Elsie Morgan sees plenty of teeth close up in her works as a dental hygienist. She likes to take the opportunity to offer her tips and suggestions to an online audience and is a frequent contributor for a number of relevant websites.


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