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Avoiding an Acid Wash Smile: Tooth Erosion Treatment

Dr. Hellwig Jun 8, 2016

A diagram of a tooth's structureDr. Peter Hellwig is committed to the people of San Diego, offering advanced restorative dentistry to improve the health of the teeth and gums. This is important for issues such as tooth decay and tooth erosion, and also important for addressing tooth erosion.

Tooth erosion is often misunderstood by many people. Let's take a moment to consider what it is an how it can be treated and prevented.

About Tooth Erosion

Also known as dental erosion and acidic erosion, tooth erosion refers to the loss of enamel as a result of an acidic pH in the mouth. When your oral pH is more acidic than base, this makes tooth enamel more likely to wear down. Over time, this can result in the exposure of the dentin layer of a tooth as well as increased risk of root canal infection and serious dental damage.

How Tooth Erosion Differs from Tooth Decay

While tooth erosion and tooth decay sound similar, they are actually two entirely different issues that affect your dental health and wellness. While tooth erosion is linked to acidity in the mouth, tooth decay is linked to oral bacteria doing damage to your teeth.

Common Causes of Tooth Erosion

The most common causes of tooth erosion include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent regurgitation
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Wine
  • Beer
  • Citrus juices

In addition to the above substances, acidic tooth erosion may be exacerbated if a person suffers from teeth grinding (bruxism). This gnashing, clenching, and shifting of the teeth can lead to significant problems with worn tooth enamel.

Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Erosion

The most common signs and symptoms of tooth erosion include:

  • Yellowing of the Teeth – When the enamel of a tooth wears away, the teeth may appear to yellow. This is because the dentin layer of a tooth is yellow in color and is showing through the weakened/thinning enamel.

  • Visible Wear on the Teeth – Teeth that are affected by acid erosion may appear shorter or stubbier than before. This is a sure sign of significant wear.

  • Increased Tooth Sensitivity – As acidic erosion gets worse and more dentin is exposed, it's not uncommon for people to notice increased sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages.

Treatments for Tooth Erosion

When it comes to treating tooth erosion, the tooth damage itself can typically be treated through the use of dental restorations. Cosmetic options include the use of dental bonding and porcelain veneers, while more substantive restoration may be accomplished using inlays, onlays, or crowns.

In addition to restoring the teeth themselves, treatment will also typically involve addressing any underlying or contributing factors related to the tooth erosion. This means treating tooth grinding and mitigating the damage done, and also potentially addressing alcoholism and eating disorders.

Preventing Tooth Erosion

When it comes to preventing tooth erosion, consider the following helpful tips:

  • Drink water to stay hydrated and keep oral pH balanced
  • Reduce consumption of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
  • Use a straw when drinking so liquids bypass the teeth
  • Wait at least one hour after eating acidic foods to brush your teeth
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste to strengthen tooth structure
  • Visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups

Learn More About Treating Tooth Erosion

To learn more about tooth erosion and how it can be effectively treated, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today. The entire team here looks forward to your visit and helping you smile with renewed confidence.

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