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The Risks of Dental Erosion & How to Prevent It

Southgate Mi Dentists

The gradual wearing away of tooth enamel, also known as dental erosion, is a common yet often overlooked condition that can significantly compromise your oral health. Addressing this silent assailant is not just about aesthetics for our Southgate, MI, dentists; it’s about maintaining the integrity of your natural teeth and ensuring their longevity. 

Here’s what you should know about how the onset of dental erosion occurs, the risks associated with it, and ways both past tooth damage can be fixed and future issues can be avoided. 

How Dental Erosion Happens

Tooth erosion occurs when enamel, the hard, protective outer coating of your teeth, is worn away by exposure to acids. These acids can come from a variety of sources, both external and internal. Common external sources, unsurprisingly, include acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and carbonated drinks. Internal sources might include acid reflux or conditions that lead to frequent vomiting, where stomach acids come into contact with tooth enamel.

Anyone at any age can experience dental erosion, even children. Fortunately, the process itself is fairly slow so there is time for you and our dentists to both intervene. Halting erosion is not impossible but may require certain lifestyle changes such as not brushing your teeth so hard or speaking with your primary care doctor about existing medical issues.

The Consequences of Untreated Dental Erosion

If dental erosion is not addressed, it can lead to the following problematic outcomes:

  • Sensitivity: As enamel wears away, the underlying dentin becomes exposed, leading to heightened sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet stimuli.
  • Discoloration: Thinner enamel can also expose the yellowish dentin underneath, leading to noticeable discoloration of the teeth.
  • Structural Damage: Severe erosion can change the shape and appearance of teeth, and in extreme cases, lead to cracks and chips.
  • Compromised Oral Health: Eventually, erosion can exacerbate the risk of cavities and decay, as weakened teeth are more susceptible to bacteria.

Preventive Measures

As mentioned above, preventing dental erosion involves a combination of lifestyle adjustments, proper dental care, and professional dental solutions. Making a change is the only way you’re going to put a stop to erosion because otherwise, it will go unchecked and result in significant wear and tear. 

Modifying Your Diet

Limit your intake of acidic foods and beverages. When you do consume them, try to eat them during meals rather than between meals to minimize exposure. Drinking water or rinsing your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods can also help to neutralize the acids.

Improving Oral Hygiene

Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste can help. However, it’s important to wait at least 30 minutes after consuming acidic foods or drinks to brush, as enamel softened by acid can be worn away more easily by brushing.

Using Fluoride Products

Fluoride can help to strengthen enamel and reduce the risk of erosion. Consider using fluoride mouthwashes and ask our dentists about fluoride treatments.

Addressing Medical Conditions

If you suffer from conditions like acid reflux or an eating disorder, seek medical treatment. Managing these conditions can reduce their impact on your oral health.

Professional Dental Solutions

For those already experiencing tooth erosion, or at high risk for it, our Southgate, MI, dental office offers several solutions that not only prevent further damage but also restore the appearance and function of eroded teeth:

  • Dental Crowns: For teeth that are significantly eroded, dental crowns can be an effective solution. Crowns cover the damaged tooth, restoring its shape, size, appearance, and most importantly, its integrity.
  • Dental Implants: If erosion leads to tooth loss, dental implants serve as a durable replacement that not only looks but also functions like a natural tooth.
  • Night Guards: For patients who suffer from nocturnal bruxism (teeth grinding), night guards can be beneficial. Grinding can exacerbate erosion, so wearing a guard protects teeth from the effects of grinding, which can be particularly harsh on already weakened enamel.

Make an Appointment Today

By taking proactive steps to prevent dental erosion and seeking professional help from our dentists in Southgate, MI, you can protect your teeth from premature wear and maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. Call Northline Dental today at (734) 284-8088 to request an appointment.