Enamel Erosion

A look at the causes and potential problems of tooth enamel damage.

The enamel on our teeth is a very hard protective layer which enables us to bite efficiently and also protects the softer dentin layer underneath.

With a healthy diet and good general oral health care, the enamel should remain strong and healthy but a poor diet or neglecting oral health can cause the enamel to erode, potentially leading to a number of dental issues.

At the Cygnet Dental Practice in Wickford, we always check the enamel of your teeth during routine check up appointments. Signs of wear can often indicate that improvement is needed in your diet or daily care of teeth and gums.

Acids and sugars

The biggest threat to the enamel is from acid damage. This can even be caused by what we would consider to be “healthy” foods, especially citrus fruits. High sugar drinks, including ‘sports’ drinks, are thought to be responsible for damaging young teeth especially. Once sugars are consumed, these feed the bacteria in our mouth which produce acids which gradually eat away at the protective enamel layer.

Dental problems

Once the enamel becomes damaged, there are a range of dental problems that can occur.

  1. Stained teeth – A tooth surface that has been made rougher by damaged enamel may contain a large number of very tiny ‘pits’ on the surface of the tooth. These areas are likely to trap staining substances such as those from tea, coffee and red wine. Over time, this surface discolouration can make your teeth look very stained.
  2. Decay – As tooth enamel becomes eroded, the protection of the softer dentin layer underneath is compromised. When this happens, dental decay can often follow. Providing it is detected early enough, a simple filling may be sufficient to repair the damaged tooth.
  3. Root canal – If not detected and treated early on, the material in the root canals of a tooth may become infected by bacteria entering via the damaged tooth surface. Whilst a tooth affected in this way can often be saved using root canal therapy, it is of course, far better to prevent it from reaching this point.

Prevention and solutions

To keep the enamel of your teeth healthy and intact, a diet low in sugar is recommended and acidic fruits should also be eaten in moderation. Above all though, regular brushing and flossing of the teeth is essential. You should take care to clean your teeth using light pressure and small circular motions – do not ‘scrub’ hard at your teeth as this can speed up enamel damage.

Where the surface of your front teeth has been badly damaged, this can be rectified by replacing the damaged surface enamel with porcelain veneers. Not only will these help to protect the softer dentin layer of the tooth, but also provides an opportunity to have attractive whiter teeth.

As an important part of keeping your teeth healthy, regular dental check ups are essential. So if you live in the Wickford area of Essex and have not had your teeth checked recently, please call the Cygnet Dental Practice on 01268 733078 to arrange an appointment with one of our dentists.