Tooth Enamel Erosion and How to Prevent it

Post by: Gerarda on 19 Apr 2021

Even though you have the body’s hardest tissue covering your teeth, enamel, it is still very susceptible to damage especially from crunching or grinding hard substances, consuming acidic drinks, or chipping from opening a bottle with your teeth or biting your fingernails.

Enamel covers the crown of a tooth and is the only part visible outside the gum. Enamel serves a function of protection, providing a layer of insulation against temperatures and chemicals. If you have a tooth that has eroded you can have sensitivity for hot or cold when eating and drinking. Breathing cold air or eating sweets can also give you that same sensitivity. Once the tooth has eroded it leaves openings for the sensitivity to get through to the layer of tooth that contains the nerve fibers.

What causes tooth enamel erosion?
Eating too much food or drink containing sugar and acids erodes the enamel on teeth. Normal bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugar and unless you maintain good oral hygiene, bacteria are left to feed on the sugar which wreaks havoc on your teeth.

Tooth enamel erosion can be caused by the following:
• Soft drinks & fruit drinks
• Sour foods or candies – any food that tastes sour indicates the presence of an acid
• Foods high in sugar and starches – bread, pasta, rice, couscous, potatoes, breakfast cereals, oats and other grains
• Bulimia or alcoholism – frequent vomiting can erode the tooth enamel
• Dry mouth or low saliva flow (xerostomia)
• Environmental conditions – grinding (bruxism), wear and tear, stress
• Abrasion – brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard toothbrush
• Acid reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn
• Gastrointestinal problems
• Medications (antihistamines, aspirin, vitamin C)

How to avoid tooth erosion?
• Limit the amount of acidic food and drink you consume. If you are having a soft drink or fruit juice then have a glass of water or milk after to rinse your mouth or eat a piece of cheese.
• Drink water throughout the day.
• Use a soft toothbrush.
• Use fluoride toothpaste.
• Get treatment for any health conditions.
• Ask your dentist about sealants or dental bonding to prevent tooth erosion.

What to do if I have tooth erosion?
The tooth needs treatment in the form of tooth bonding or depending on the amount of tooth substance lost, it may need a veneer or a crown to protect it from further damage.

The Pandemic and Your Teeth

Post by: Gerarda on 28 Oct 2020

We have noticed a marked increase in broken teeth and sore jaws with TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problems since the pandemic of COVID-19 started and people were in lockdown; enough to warrant more than a passing thought. The need for mouth guards to prevent people from grinding and clenching their teeth is correspondingly up.

The Spanish Dental Association (Ilustre Colegio Oficial de Dentistas de Málaga, COEMA) hasn’t done a survey to verify this increase in dental problems since the pandemic started, but reports from colleagues of pandemic-related dental problems are common says Dr. Mikael Kahn. Mikael says, “Bacteria doesn’t take a break, nor does it know there is pandemic! One can postpone dental treatment for a while, but sooner or later it gets to a point where one can´t put it off any more.”

The combination of being in lockdown and therefore, delaying treatment, the stress of being without a job or wondering how one will pay one’s rent, or the fact that one has adverse working conditions, has caused the problems of broken teeth and sore jaws.

We are seeing the amount of stress people are under, having a severe impact on their teeth because of clenching and grinding. This in turn has created problems with their jaw and TMJ. Additionally, with people working from home more often than not they don’t have appropriate chairs to sit in for long periods of time and therefore, are hunched over at their computers. This in turn can increase grinding (bruxism).

In addition to stress and delayed care, we are seeing more cavities as people are snacking more because they are working from home and have ready access to foods that they would not ordinarily have at work. Consequently, people are also brushing less frequently. When people get out of their routines, many times the oral hygiene follows suit.

Having reviewed our records from the same period as last year from June to October, we have seen a 54% increase in the need for mouth guards, 87% increase in broken teeth treated either by composite repair or crowns and a 12% increase in treatment for cavities.

While we can´t say definitively that these statistics are a direct result of the lockdown we experienced in the spring, we can say that we have treated more broken teeth and TMJ problems than ever before during the same period.

Tooth Enamel and Erosion

Post by: Gerarda on 08 Aug 2019

What is tooth enamel?
Tooth enamel is that hard, shiny layer of material which protects your teeth against decay. It is the layer of material that you are to brush and floss on a daily basis. To be more precise, it is hydroxyapatite, a translucent calcium phosphate. Suffice it to say enamel is the hardest mineral element in your body, even harder than bone. Don´t be fooled though as it still can be damaged.

What causes enamel to be damaged or eroded?
• Poor oral hygiene
• Acidic food & drinks (lemon juice, limes, grapefruits, grapes, pineapples, pomegranates, blueberries) to name a few
• Soft drinks in excess
• High sugar and starch diet
• Teeth grinding – wears away the enamel and leaves the dentin exposed
• Medications (antihistamines, decongestants, high blood pressure medications (including diuretics & calcium channel blockers), antidepressants, sedatives, pain medications, antacids
• Dry mouth – xerostomia, where the saliva glands don´t make enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. Many times this is a side effect of medication or radiation therapy.
• Acid reflux that occurs more than a couple of times a week
• Gastrointestinal problems – repeated vomiting from GI problems or eating disorders

What does tooth erosion look or feel like?
When your teeth become rough and irregular, or serrated like a saw blade you know the enamel has eroded. Essentially you reshape your teeth. You can experience sever sensitivity to both cold and hot temperatures and to sweets. You can also feel a shooting pain through one or more teeth so much so that it makes your eyes squint.

Can tooth erosion be repaired?
Once tooth enamel is gone, it´s gone. Teeth need to be rebuilt with composite restorations, crowns or veneers. The advantage of composite restorations is that it is a comparatively inexpensive and a conservative way to restore teeth. The result is immediate. More extensively damaged teeth might necessitate a porcelain veneer or porcelain crown.

You only get one set of permanent teeth; therefore, you might as well look after them. They are not meant to bite off thread or to open a bottle cap in a pinch. Your teeth need to be healthy as they not only serve to make us look good, but they also aid in digestion. As your mouth is the beginning of the digestive system it stands to reason that if you have digestive problems then you look to the overall health of your mouth as well as your stomach to determine the problem.

Begin by looking at your teeth and see whether any of the above symptoms are similar to yours. If they are then you know what to do. Call your dentist for a check-up.