Tooth Erosion

|| Dental treatments in Centurion, Gauteng ||

Dental erosion is a growing concern today, with many of our daily consumables containing varying degrees of acid. Every acidic bite or sip leads to a temporary softening of the tooth enamel and a consequent loss of essential minerals. While the body’s natural response, saliva, usually neutralises this acidity, frequent acid attacks can outpace the mouth’s ability to recover. This relentless cycle eventually leads to the gradual erosion of the enamel.

What is tooth acid erosion?

Dental erosion is the degradation of the tooth surface attributed to the acids we consume or those regurgitated from our stomach. These potent acids can dissolve the crystalline structure of our teeth, making them susceptible to wear. Moreover, as these acids soften the enamel, the teeth become more vulnerable to damage from external forces, including abrasive tooth brushing or teeth grinding.

What are the signs and symptoms of tooth acid erosion? 

Several indicators suggest the onset or presence of tooth acid erosion:

  • Tooth Discolouration: A hallmark sign of erosion is the yellowing of teeth. While pristine enamel has a characteristic white hue, the underlying layer, dentin, is naturally yellow. As erosion thins out the enamel, this yellow dentin becomes more pronounced.
  • Altered Tooth Appearance: Over time, you might observe that your teeth appear shorter or their edges seem more translucent than before. Such changes in appearance are indicative of substantial enamel loss.
  • Tooth Sensitivity: As the protective enamel layer diminishes, the underlying dentin, riddled with nerve endings, becomes exposed. This manifests as heightened sensitivity, especially to temperature extremes.

What are the preventive measures?

Prevention is the primary line of defence in the battle against tooth acid erosion. Based on individual assessments, Dr. Jansen often advocates:

  • Limiting Acidic Intake: Moderation is crucial for acidic foods and drinks. If you indulge, consider using a straw to minimise direct contact with the teeth. Pairing acidic foods with calcium-rich ones, like cheese, can also counteract the acid’s effects.
  • Rinsing After Consumption: Swishing your mouth with plain water is beneficial after any acidic consumption. This aids in diluting and washing away the residual acid.
  • Mindful Brushing: After an acidic meal or drink, refrain from brushing immediately. Waiting for about 30 minutes allows the saliva to restore some of the enamel’s mineral content, reducing the risk of brushing away the softened enamel.

Addressing Tooth Acid Erosion

For those already grappling with acid erosion, Dr Jansen offers a suite of interventions:

  • Remineralising Toothpaste: Remineralising toothpaste can be used to strengthen weakened enamel. They aid in replenishing some of the lost minerals, strengthening the remaining enamel.
  • Dental Restorations: In advanced cases where the erosion has caused significant cosmetic and functional impairment, dental restorations like bonding may be recommended. These cover the compromised enamel and revamp the tooth’s aesthetic appeal.
  • Dental Crowns: Dr Jansen might propose using a dental crown in severe scenarios where the tooth’s integrity is gravely compromised. These crowns encapsulate the entire tooth, offering both protection and aesthetic refinement.

In the journey of maintaining dental health, understanding and addressing tooth acid erosion is pivotal. With proper care, preserving the integrity and beauty of your smile for years to come is entirely possible.

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