Overview : When the top coat (enamel) of a tooth is worn away, the tooth becomes more sensitive and is more easily damaged by decay. Advanced cases often require a procedure involving crowns to save the teeth.
Causes : There are several ways that tooth enamel may be worn away. The usual causes of the erosion of tooth enamel are one or more of the following:
- Abrasion: Abrasion is the wearing away of tooth enamel by some form of foreign object. Common causes of abrasion are: Chewing on things obsessively like pens or pencils, brushing too hard or too long; Fingernail biting, holding things in between the teeth, etc; Oral jewelry – Patients with pierced lips and/or tongue often wear away the enamel on teeth around the piercing.
- Erosion: Erosion is the chemical wearing away of tooth enamel. Typically this kind of wear is caused by an acid like Citric acid. Citrus fruit like lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit contain citric acid, as do most soft drinks and juices like lemonade. Some candies also contain citric acid. Many soft drinks contain other additional harmful acids as do coffee and tea. Individuals who suffer from Bulimia (people who intentionally and repeatedly induce vomiting) expose their teeth to strong stomach acids. While exposure to dietary acids is rarely a problem, repeated exposure to high levels of these acids can cause premature wear. Some common habits to avoid are: Regularly sucking on lemons or limes; eating or sucking on candies, especially “sour” candies as they often contain sugar and citric acid. Drinking too many soft drinks daily, even “diet” and sugar-free soft drinks; Drinking too many glasses of lemonade daily; Drinking too many cups of coffee or glasses of tea daily; Even if you only occasionally eat or drink highly acidic foods, it’s a good idea to at least rinse your mouth with fresh water when you are finished. This action will help to reduce the amount of time the acids have to work on your teeth.
- Attrition: Wear, which is also sometimes referred to as “attrition” is the gradual loss of enamel through normal speaking and eating, however this typically doesn’t produce excessive wear. More extreme cases of wear are typically caused by Bruxism, which is the medical term for the grinding of teeth against teeth. Bruxism usually occurs at night while the patient sleeps, and often the patient is unaware of the grinding or enamel loss.
Absolute Dental specializes in the care and correction of cases involving tooth wear. Contact your nearest office to arrange a consultation.