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Enamel Erosion — How It Affects Your Teeth

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Having your kids brush their teeth before they go to bed each night helps them learn good oral hygiene practices. And while twice-daily tooth brushing is good for developing teeth, it always enough to stop bad breath from occurring. Bad breath isn't always solely an oral health issue; there can be other causes that need a different solution. Here are five surprising causes of bad breath in children and how to stop them.

What is Enamel Erosion?
Enamel erosion occurs when the enamel of the teeth, the exterior layer of tissue that covers teeth, is worn away or reduced by a chemical acid process. There are two types of enamel erosion:

1. Intrinsic erosion — Caused by gastric acid and acid regurgitation due to medical or psychological issues (e.g., acid reflux, anorexia, bulimia, etc.).

2. Extrinsic erosion – Occurs when dietary acids (e.g., sugar, diet sodas, fruit drinks, carbonated drinks, etc.) contribute to the mouth’s being in a very acidic state.

Signs of Enamel Erosion
When the enamel on the teeth wears down, it can cause several things to occur:

  • Teeth may become further worn down
  • Teeth become discolored because the enamel has worn away and the dentin is exposed.
  • The edges of the front teeth may look transparent.
  • Tooth sensitivity can occur when the enamel is worn away both on the lip and tongue surfaces of the teeth. The dentin, the layer of tissue under the enamel, is softer than enamel, and it is more sensitive to touch, air, biting forces and acid exposure.

If you notice these types of changes in your mouth, please consult your dentist.

What Changes Can Be Made to Improve Your Teeth?
Once a dentist has examined your teeth, you may want to discuss your next steps to reduce enamel erosion in your mouth:

  1. Determine over what time span you have been suffering from enamel erosion.

  2. Identify the frequency of acid intake and how the acids are consumed.

  3. Consult a nutritionist to assist in dietary assessment and reducing acid intake.

  4. Determine if you suffer from gastric reflux, regurgitation or eating disorders.

  5. Identify teeth that might need to be replaced by cosmetic restorations and/or bonding agents.

Enamel erosion affects all age groups and appears to be related to tooth sensitivity.2 Acidic foods and drinks may need to be reduced or even eliminated because of the erosion they cause. Toothpaste, like Colgate® Enamel Repair like can also be used for pain relief. Sealants or bonding agents may be considered to reduce the progression of enamel erosion. In addition, applying fluoride can help increase resistance to the acid dissolution but it will not remineralize your teeth.

Remember, it is always important to consult your dentist to discuss treatment options for enamel erosion.

References:

1. Smith, BGN, Robb ND. The prevalence of toothwear in 1007 dental patients. J Oral Rehabil 1996, 23:232-239.