Dental erosion of tooth enamel has become a significant concern for many people and is a problem that particularly affects children and teenagers. Unfortunately, the Highland Park, MN General Dentist sees many cases where the damage has already progressed to the point where it cannot be corrected. This is an important point to be aware of because once dental enamel is lost due to erosion, it cannot be replaced.
What causes dental erosion?
The enamel that protects the inner portion of our teeth is constantly being subject to damage from acidic food and drinks. Young children and adolescents are particularly prone to this problem since they tend to consume a lot of fruit juices and other acidic beverages like “energy” drinks. Drinks like orange and apple juice are healthy for the body, but they actually contain high levels of acid that affect tooth enamel. Other drinks that cause dental erosion are carbonated cola drinks and wine.
What are the symptoms of dental erosion?
There are a number of signs that your teeth may already be affected from dental erosion. Some signs to be aware of are:
- Yellowing of teeth: Acid in the food and drink we consume wears away healthy enamel, making the underlying yellowish dentin becomes more noticeable.
- Increased sensitivity: Healthy dental enamel is a very hard substance that serves as protection for the underlying tooth structure. As enamel wears away, you may experience a sensation of increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods or when visiting the dentist.
- Changes in the shape of your teeth: Since the acid in certain foods and drinks literally destroys healthy tooth enamel, the shape of your teeth can appear to change or gaps may start to form between teeth.
- Dental fillings become more noticeable: Since dental fillings are fashioned from man-made materials, they will not be impacted to the same extent as dental enamel. This causes fillings to become more noticeable as surrounding dental enamel deteriorates.
Our dental health needs change constantly as we age. You may have noticed that, as you’ve reached retirement years, you have to be more diligent with you oral health. It’s a fact of life that, after years of brushing and general wear, you will experience some loss of enamel. This loss can cause sensitivity as well as discoloration of your teeth as the yellowish dentin under the enamel begins to show through.
Of course, you should continue to brush and floss regularly. Brushing at least twice a day and after meals if possible will help to keep up with the removal of food particles that can cause bacteria to form leading to periodontal disease. Your Highland Park St. Paul General Dentist recommends that you use a soft bristle brush to reduce further wear of enamel or gum recession. If you’ve noticed that your teeth have become more sensitive over the years, ask your dentist for a recommendation for toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth.
As you age you should also be aware of the type of foods you eat and how they affect your teeth and gums. Since some yellowing of the teeth is normal as we age, it is wise to avoid foods or drinks that will leave stains on the teeth such as red wine, coffee, soda, and black tea. Years of tobacco use will also lead to discoloration of your teeth. Curtailing the use of tobacco products can help greatly.
Avoid sticky and acidic foods since they also lead to tooth decay and loss of tooth enamel. This includes sticky or very sweet foods like gummy candies and soda. Acid reflux is also another condition that can hasten the loss of tooth enamel. Try to avoid the types of foods that you know will trigger acid reflux.
Maintaining healthy teeth and gums as you age is certainly not impossible, but you do need to be sure to maintain your overall health and be diligent with your at-home oral health care routine. Make regular appointments with your St. Paul General Dentist for professional cleanings and checkups to stay ahead of any oral health issues that may develop and to help maintain a beautiful, healthy smile for many years to come.
There are an increasing number of reports about the damage caused by dental erosion. The problems that result from this process are not new. But our increased consumption of fruity drinks, soda and energy drinks has caused an increase in the number of patients experiencing the unfortunate results of this excess.
How Acidic Foods Cause Cavities
Tooth enamel is made of minerals, and cavities are caused by a process known as demineralization. This occurs when the enamel on your tooth comes in contact with sweet foods and drinks. Waste products created by bacteria as it consumes these sugars contain the acids that cause demineralization. When these acids remain on the teeth they start producing tooth decay within minutes.
Most of us have experienced cavities, but left untreated over a long period of time, a simple cavity can result in the complete destruction of the tooth structure. With the increased consumption of soda, fruit juices and energy drinks, our Highland Park, MN Dentist Office is seeing an increase in the number of patients with dental erosion. While sugar is the most common cause of dental erosion, some other causes are:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Consuming sour foods or candies
- Dry mouth or low saliva volume
- Acid reflux disease (GERD), or heartburn
If you experience sensitivity when eating hot, cold or sweet foods and drinks you may have dental erosion. Also, yellowing of the enamel indicates that it is thinning and exposing the yellow dentin beneath. Dental erosion can literally destroy your teeth over time if not addressed, and if it reaches this point, tooth extraction and costly dental prosthetics may be necessary.Diligent oral hygiene habits and regular visits to your dentist are the best defense against the destruction caused by dental erosion. Your Minneapolis Dental Office is trained to detect signs of dental erosion and take the necessary steps to arrest and reverse its damage. If the enamel has sustained significant cosmetic damage, veneers, either porcelain or Lumineers, may be recommended to protect your teeth and restore your healthy smile.
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