Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, and it covers every part of the tooth that is above the gum line. Enamel acts as a shield that protects teeth from wear caused by chewing and from hot and cold temperatures.
Enamel erosion occurs when the enamel is damaged and worn away. This typically happens due to acids in the patient's diet. It may also be caused by genetic conditions, medications for acid reflux disease, aspirin, antihistamines, and dry mouth. When enamel erosion is present, teeth may appear translucent at the tips, and patients may notice pain or sensitivity when drinking hot or cold beverages. The teeth may also become discoloured, and teeth with severe enamel loss can show signs of cupping (indentations). Without the protection from enamel, teeth are more susceptible to cavities.
At our dental office in Toronto and Etobicoke, we see patients every day who are experiencing enamel erosion. To help prevent future erosion, we recommend that patients minimize the acidic foods and drinks in their diets. In particular, patients are advised to limit soda consumption, fruit juice, smoothies, and whole citrus fruits. When these are consumed, patients should rinse their mouths with an alkaline water to restore a healthy pH and neutralize the acid. For additional protection, patients may wish to consider adding xylitol to their oral hygiene routine. Xylitol helps to prevent the formation of plaque, and it is particularly useful for patients at a high risk of cavities. Patients can easily incorporate xylitol into their daily routines by chewing sugar-free xylitol gum after meals. Patients should also wait at least one hour to brush their teeth after consuming any acidic food or drink; brushing immediately can weaken enamel.
For patients who have significant enamel loss, cosmetic dentistry treatments can help improve the appearance of teeth. Patients may need to have veneers or dental implants, and crowns may also be beneficial. At Your Dental Office in Toronto and Etobicoke, we offer a full range of preventative and cosmetic dentistry. If you are concerned about any aspect of your dental health, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Our dentists will be happy to advise you on the most effective treatment options for your situation.