The Dangers of Dental Damage and Tooth Erosion By Joe McIntyre, DDS on November 25, 2017

An illustration of a healthy tooth and its internal structuresA hard, outer layer of tissue called the enamel protects the teeth. Although the enamel is one of the hardest tissues in the body, it can be damaged through tooth erosion, a process in which acids wear away the enamel. At Smiles for Life Dental Care, we offer a full range of restorative dentistry treatments to reverse the damage of tooth erosion and ensure the health and beauty of our patients' smiles.

Our dentists Joe McIntyre, Dan Whiting, and Kelsey Rockey work with each patient to determine the best course of action for treating dental damage and tooth erosion at their practice in Harrisonburg, VA.

Causes of Tooth Erosion

There are many possible causes of tooth erosion, such as consuming foods and drinks with high levels of acids or sugars, like soft drinks and citrus juices. It may also be caused by such factors as dry mouth, certain medications, and acid reflux disease. In some cases, tooth erosion may be caused by mechanical forces, such as teeth grinding and daily wear and tear.

Whatever the cause, tooth erosion can leave the teeth severely damaged if steps are not taken to stop the progression of erosion. Now, let's take a closer look at some of common types of dental damage caused by tooth erosion.

Increased Dental Sensitivity

The enamel helps protect the nerves, which are responsible for regulating sensitivity. The nerves are housed inside of the teeth, preventing pain when exposed to temperature fluctuations and certain foods, specifically sweet or acidic foods. As the enamel erodes, temperature changes and sweet or acidic foods may begin to reach the nerves, causing increased dental sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity may become extremely painful the more enamel erosion progresses.

Dental Discoloration

The enamel is a translucent material that covers the dentin of the teeth. The dentin is what gives the teeth their color and may range in shades from white, off white, gray, or yellow. Although the enamel can become stained, if it erodes, the full color of the dentin may be exposed, making the teeth appear discolored.

Cupping

Cupping refers to indentations on the surface of the teeth and is one of the signs of tooth erosion. Cupping can occur within the enamel as a result of acid erosion or mechanical erosion, and as a result of chronic teeth grinding.

Tooth Decay

One of the most common forms of dental damage associated with enamel erosion is tooth decay. As the hard layer of enamel erodes, it exposes the delicate inner structures of the tooth to plaque and bacteria, which increases the risk of decay.

Root Canal Infections

Once enamel erosion gives way to tooth decay, damaged teeth become vulnerable to root canal infections. Root canal infections occur once bacteria are allowed to enter the inner root canal chamber of the tooth. This chamber houses the nerves, pulp tissue, and blood vessels (which nourish the teeth). These tissues may become infected if the root canal chamber is breached, leading to painful toothaches and increasing the risk of tooth loss.

Discover Your Treatment Options

For more information about tooth erosion, or to find out which treatments are right for you, please contact our practice to schedule a consultation.

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