Tooth erosion, also known as dental erosion is mainly caused due to acidic pH of the saliva in the mouth. The enamel of the tooth is actually the hardest substance is the human body. It is responsible for protection of the tooth and is composed of calcified tissue. ***Remineralization*** of the tooth takes place due to saliva in the mouth, which provides calcium necessary for remineralization.
Tooth erosion is a term used for the wearing away or degradation of the tooth enamel due to the action of acid or acidic foods. It is a slow, gradual process. If the acidic content of the saliva increases, remineralization can not take place.
The increase of acid content in the saliva may be due to consumption of soft and aerated drinks or fruits juices, decrease in the saliva in the mouth, or due to certain disorders such as gastro-esophageal reflux disease.
Signs and symptoms of tooth erosion
Tooth Erosion Trivia:
3% of children in India suffer from severe tooth erosion.
21% of people who consume aerated drinks on a daily basis are more susceptible to tooth erosion.
There are certain early signs that may forewarn about the possibly of erosion of the teeth.
- Sensitivity of the tooth: Sudden increase in the sensitivity of the tooth may indicate progressive erosion of the ***enamel***, thus, exposing the ***dentin*** which causes increased sensitivity.
- Changes in appearance: Discoloration or development of a yellowish tinge on the tooth may also be a sign of tooth erosion. The discoloration or loss of color most commonly occurs in the cutting edge of the ***incisors***
- Change in shape: The erosion of enamel also causes the teeth to change shape and become more rounded.
- Development of cracks: Crack formation in the teeth is also a sign of dental erosion. This happens in cases of advanced and prolonged tooth erosion.
- Extreme pain: In extreme cases, the affected tooth or teeth becomes very sensitive causing severe pain after consumption of hot or cold foods. In this case, the dentin is quite exposed resulting in increased sensitivity.
- Tooth decay: This is the most severe effect of tooth erosion. Due to absence of enamel to protect the tooth, bacterial growth leads to tooth decay.
Prevention of tooth erosion
Certain preventive methods if employed correctly and regularly may help to keep tooth problems at bay.
- After consumption of highly acidic foods or drinks, always rinse the mouth thoroughly so as to neutralize the acid in the mouth.
- Chewing sugar free gums stimulates the salivary glands to secrete more saliva thus, making the mouth moist and enhancing remineralization of the teeth.
- Using a straw while drinking ***carbonated*** drinks or acidic fruit juices would limit the tooth’s exposure to acidic substances thus, causing minimal harm to the enamel.
- Use a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth and prevent friction from eroding your enamel.
- Cut back your consumption of carbonated drinks and if you must, drink them quickly and avoid holding them in your mouth for long.
Maintaining good oral hygiene is the best preventive measure against all tooth problems.