Tooth erosion, also often referred to as dental erosion, is rather self-explanatory. Essentially, it is the erosion of your tooth enamel over time. However, there are a lot of factors that can help to prevent or slow down erosion, but also speed up erosion. Primarily, dental erosion is the gradual loss of your teeth’s surface (the enamel) and is mostly due to acidic foods and drinks. However, non-acidic foods have the same effect, especially sugary foods. This is because bacteria in your mouth react with sugar and other substances left behind by food and drink, which forms lactic acid. This lactic acid is the main cause for tooth erosion.
Main Causes of Tooth Erosion
Like we just mentioned, acidic food and drink is one of the major causes of tooth erosion. In fact, the issue has become progressively worse with the introduction of sodas, fruit juices, and sour candies that are readily available at nearly any store. This is because these items have very low pH levels, which cause all kinds of issues with your dental health.
According to a 2012 poll conducted by Gallup, nearly half of all Americans reported that they drink at least one glass of soda per day, which is about one can per day. That is a staggering 365 cans of soda per year for at least 50% of Americans! But acid isn’t the only thing in soda that is horrible for your teeth. The average can of soda also has about 39 grams of sugar, and at one can of soda per day, that amounts to 14,235 grams of sugar consumed every year from soda alone for one person. After a decade, you’ve now consumed 142,350 grams of sugar just from soda!
While soda is a big contender for a major issue, it’s not the only reason that teeth erode. Many foods, acidic or not, will damage your teeth if you don’t practice any good dental hygiene. Substances left behind on your teeth interact with bacteria in your mouth to form lactic acid, and this lactic acid can coat your teeth to cause tooth erosion.
Signs of Dental Erosion
Dental erosion can be pretty easy to spot, especially if you regularly visit your dentist like you are supposed to. There are two huge signs that you can look for to see if you are affected by dental erosion.
If your teeth are discolored and becoming a yellow or brown, your enamel is eroding. One of the main reasons that tooth discoloration occurs is because the outer layers of enamel have eroded away, and substances like coffee, soda, and many foods continue to interact with your teeth without the application of toothpaste and mouthwash. These foods and drinks will begin to stain your teeth, and along with being a sign of tooth erosion and bad dental hygiene, it doesn’t make for a good smile.
Your teeth and enamel play a vital role in protecting what’s underneath. This is especially important because of the blood vessels that are in your gums, which can become infected and carry the infection to other areas of the body. As teeth erode, especially towards the center, the nerves found in the root of the tooth can become exposed. If you’ve ever had something really cold like ice cream and experienced pain radiating from a tooth, there is likely tooth erosion that has resulted in a cavity and has exposed the nerves.
Ways to Treat and Prevent Tooth Erosion
There are many ways to prevent tooth erosion, and that starts with proper dental care. In fact, the amount of time it would take every day for you to practice proper oral hygiene techniques takes the same amount of time has sipping on a couple cans of soda! It’s important to note that after consuming sugary or acidic foods or drinks, you shouldn’t brush your teeth right away. Saliva is actually very good at naturally removing acids from your teeth, and brushing too soon could do more harm than good. One of the best preventative measures you can take, however, is to rinse your mouth out with water.
Along with brushing your teeth every day, using mouthwash if needed, and flossing, visiting your dentist at least two times every year is the best way to treat and prevent further tooth erosion. At Prosper & Smile Dental care, we have the equipment and the experience to give you the happy, healthy smile that you deserve. Contact us or schedule an appointment today!