Although the enamel is the hardest tissue in your body, it is subjected to constant and extreme forces on a daily basis. As the outermost covering on the surface of your teeth, your enamel is regularly exposed to various temperature changes, chemicals, pressure, and trauma.
Enamel erosion is a dental condition that is identified by a worn or weakened tooth surface. The most common type of erosion is chemical erosion, in which acids break down the enamel. When exposed to an acidic environment, the tooth structure begins to demineralize and slowly disintegrate. Since the enamel is unable to repair itself, it is critical that you seek advice from your dentist to discuss strategies for prevention and restoration.
What type of acid causes erosion? Surprisingly, the presence of almost any acid can contribute to erosion. For instance, most soft drinks contain citric or phosphoric acids, which can be more corrosive than battery acid! But, even beverages that are free from acidic ingredients can lead to erosion. That’s because the bacteria that reside in the mouth can digest sugars or carbohydrates and produce a highly acidic byproduct. That acidic byproduct will ultimately be responsible for enamel erosion.
Patients who suffer from acid reflux or frequent heartburn are especially susceptible to erosion. The stomach acids that are naturally produced by the body can be harmful to your enamel. As these acids enter into the oral cavity, whether due to reflux or vomiting (such as bulimia), the teeth instantly become more vulnerable to erosion.
Your saliva is designed to provide a natural barrier between your teeth and harmful acids. When the mouth is dry or when the quality of the saliva is weak, this protection is diminished. Patients who suffer with a chronically dry mouth, take medications that cause a dry the mouth, or those with a low salivary flow, may notice higher levels of erosive damage.
Your dentist can help to determine if your teeth show signs of erosion and help you to identify the cause of the damage. To schedule an evaluation to learn more, call our North Dallas office for your appointment today.