Cavities are not the only way you can damage your tooth enamel. Non-carious lesions can lead to a number of problems including grooves or notches in the sides and at the base of your teeth.
These notches can be caused by excessive wear and pressure due to clenching and grinding as often the force of the stress is leveled at its most narrow point which is the base of your tooth.
Another very common cause of damage is erosion. Since dental erosion is painless, we dentists are often the first to notice that damage has been done.
Here are some common causes of enamel erosion…
- acidic foods and beverages including lemons and other citrus fruits, juices, pickles, and wine coolers
- foods and beverages containing carbohydrates and added sugars as well as carbonated beverages, pre-sweetened cereals, candies, and other sweet treats
- beverages that may contain powerful phosphoric acids including sports drinks, vitamin waters, energy drinks and protein drinks
As with any oral health issue, prevention is always preferable, and it seems obvious looking at this list that limiting your acidic- and carbohydrate-laden foods and beverages is an essential strategy. With erosion, proper brushing habits are important for two reasons.
First, you don’t want to brush too hard and cause more damage to enamel that has been
softened by acids. Toothbrush abrasion is definitely the biggest culprit – it can expose the roots of your teeth and your teeth enamel to cavity-causing bacteria, thin your teeth enamel so that the yellow dentin inside shows through, and make your teeth sensitive to hot and cold.
Second, it is crucial to remove plaque, the biofilm that you can feel on your teeth, especially at the gumline. Once formed into plaque, the oral bacteria that feeds on sugars left in your mouth after eating produces demineralizing acids. Fluoride toothpaste can help to protect your teeth and re-mineralize, and if clenching and grinding is a problem, an occlusal guard is an excellent preventive option.
If you’ve already lost teeth enamel, or think you may have, let’s talk during your next visit about your options for the restoration and preservation of your smile. Most of the time you can be treated with a simple tooth-colored filling that is bonded to your tooth, although if the tooth has a large existing filling or extensive decay, a crown may be needed.
Whichever strategy suits, you can be sure that your smile will look completely natural – just stronger and better than ever.
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