Preventing Tooth Erosion
Tooth erosion, or tooth wear, is the loss of the surrounding tooth structure. This loss occurs when the hard part of your teeth - which is called the enamel - is worn away by acid. Overtime, this erosion can leave your teeth sensitive, cracked, and discolored.
What causes tooth erosion?
Acid is the main cause of tooth erosion. So, drinking carbonated beverages, energy and sports drinks, and pure fruit juice, which all contain high levels of acid, can cause tooth erosion, especially when consumed in large amounts. Certain medical conditions, including acid reflux and bulimia, also can cause tooth erosion because they cause increased levels of stomach acids in the mouth.
What are the signs and symptoms of tooth erosion?
Tooth erosion can present in a variety of ways. Below are some common signs and symptoms.
What can I do to prevent tooth erosion?
You can help prevent tooth erosion from occurring by taking these simple steps:
How can I deal with the sensitivity caused by tooth erosion?
You can reduce sensitivity by using specially formulated toothpaste or over-the-counter enamel-building products. However, always be sure to check with your general dentist before you try any new dental products.
Tooth erosion impacts everyone in different ways. Make sure you speak with your dentist about your oral hygiene and find out what else you can do to protect yourself from tooth erosion.
Connecting Oral and Overall Health
Regular dental exams not only help decrease your risk of oral health problems, such as cavities and gum disease, but also may help to diagnose other, sometimes life-threatening, medical conditions. Serious diseases like diabetes and cancer often can be detected from signs and symptoms inside your mouth. In fact, many diseases with oral manifestations may first present orally. Dentists are a very important part of your health care team, as they can recognize the symptoms of these diseases when they assess your oral health.
More than 25 million people in the United States suffer from diabetes. Diabetes is associated with high levels of blood sugar and is known to lower resistance to infection and increase the chances of:
During your regularly scheduled dental checkup, your dentist will search for signs of oral cancer, including:
Sores that bleed easily or do not heal
Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, physically damage both your oral and overall health. These disorders, which include patterns of insufficient or excessive food intake, can rob the body of much-needed vitamins and minerals, creating deficiencies that may present themselves orally.
Without proper nutrition, gums can lose their healthy pink color and become increasingly soft and tender, bleeding easily. Additionally, disorders that involve excessive vomiting, such as bulimia, repeatedly expose the teeth to stomach acid and can cause tooth discoloration and erosion. In addition to loss of tooth enamel and thin, sensitive teeth, those with eating disorders also may experience swollen salivary glands and dry mouth.
Alcohol Use Disorders
Alcohol use disorders affect more than 17 million adults in the U.S. alone. In addition to causing irreparable social and medical problems, alcohol use disorders can severely impact your oral health. Dentists treating patients with alcohol abuse problems may observe the following signs and symptoms.
Regularly scheduled dental exams allow your dentist to detect and monitor diseases that damage your mouth, teeth, and gums. During your visit, make sure to inform your dentist about any medical conditions you have and any medicines you are currently taking. Remember, maintaining a healthy body includes taking care of your oral health.