Your teeth are tough; really tough. In fact, the outer layer of your teeth consists of enamel which is the hardest tissue in the human body. It’s even tougher than your bones. Enamel protects your teeth against cavities, sensitivity, different chemicals, and even prevents staining. However, since we use our teeth every day, they can be prone to damage which is otherwise known as enamel erosion. The result is usually painful but can be treated by a dentist.
Symptoms include but are not limited to cracks in teeth, discoloration, small indents in the teeth (known as cups), and increased sensitivity to temperatures, foods/drinks, and textures. If left untreated, enamel erosion can lead to various complications such as stained teeth, increased tooth decay, rough edges on or around your teeth, and even fractured teeth. Particularly with braces, poor brushing coupled with excess exposure to acidic foods can lead to enamel discoloration when the brackets are removed
The main causes of this erosion come from acids found in food and drinks we eat or drink on a daily basis. Too much acidic substances play into your overall oral health. Some foods and drinks that are culprits of erosion include starchy foods (such as bread), acidic foods (like coffee), sugary foods (candy is a culprit!), sodas, and excessive vitamin C found in citrus fruits, particularly lemons. That’s right, your afternoon sandwich, your extra large coke, or your ravenous cravings for candy isn’t doing you any favors…
But how do you stop enamel erosion in its tracks? First, diet is important! If possible, try to avoid too much exposure to acidic food – the less soda and candy, the better! Second, regular cleanings and fluoride treatments with your dentist can help. In addition to preventing cavities, fluoride also helps on a microscopic level, bonding to the enamel and making it more resistant to erosion. If you have reached a point where enamel erosion is severe, your dentist may be able to “bond” or cover the eroded areas by adding tooth colored material.
That said, prevention is the best policy. By treating enamel erosion before it starts, you’ll have a much better chance of it not progressing. Brush your teeth after every meal (especially after acidic or starchy foods)prevent excess build up and see your dentist regularly.