Your enamel is the outer layer of the teeth. It serves as the first defense against oral attackers and is responsible for shielding the teeth from everyday use, acid from oral bacteria, chemicals from a particular food, and the impact from your regular biting habits.
Your enamel keeps your teeth safe from the effects. And since it’s the hardest substance in the body, it can take on a fair amount of damage without a visible change in appearance. However, though the enamel is a solid substance that is intended to shield the teeth, this can eventually crack, chip, or wear away. And what if your teeth lack enamel? What can you do about it?
The Causes of Enamel Wear
Enamel wear occurs when acids corrode the enamel of the teeth. This can be caused by:
- Low salivary flow or dry mouth
- Acid reflux disease
- A diet high in starches and sugar
- Certain medications such as antihistamines and aspirin
- Environmental factors such as corrosion, friction, physical stress, and general wear and tear of the teeth
- Highly acidic fruit drinks
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Excessive consumption of soda
The Environmental Causes of Tooth Surface Erosion
Any combination of physical stress, wear and tear, corrosion, and friction can cause the tooth’s surface to erode. These terms are also known as:
Abfraction: This takes place following stress fractures in the tooth like bending of the tooth or cracks from the flexing of the tooth.
Abrasion: Abrasion pertains to the erosion of the surface of the teeth, which emerges because of improper flossing, brushing the teeth too hard, chewing tobacco, or biting on hard or solid objects like pens, bottle caps, and fingernails.
Attrition: Attrition is natural tooth-to-tooth friction that takes place when a person gnashes his or her teeth. This usually happens involuntarily when a person is sleeping.
Corrosion: This takes place when acidic content impairs the surface of the teeth. This can be due to excessive consumption of acidic foods, beverages, sugary substances, or medications. Likewise, this may be due to frequent purging from bulimia due to GORD, binge drinking, and other conditions.
The lack of enamel can be a developmental problem
In some instances, the lack of enamel arises from developmental problems that occur either during the critical developmental stages or inherited conditions. Currently, two general conditions cause a lack of enamel on one’s teeth:
- Enamel hypoplasia
- When someone has enamel hypoplasia, their teeth tend to have depressions in the form of pits and groves. They may also have white or yellowish spots on the teeth and be especially sensitive to the temperature. Factors that can increase the risk of this include congenital issues and hereditary factors.
- Another factor that can contribute to a lack of enamel is hypomineralization. Much like enamel hypoplasia, risk factors include congenital issues, but one can also contract this from childhood illnesses. Those afflicted with enamel hypomineralization tend to have a chalky tooth surface. Their teeth may also appear translucent.
Erosion is the most common cause of enamel loss
While disease-associated factors partially cause a lack of enamel, it’s not the only thing that causes it. Most cases of enamel loss do not involve hereditary causes. Instead, enamel erosion is the most significant contributor to this reduction, be it in those who are predisposed and not.
For the most part, two factors typically contribute to erosion:
- Physical. When enamel erosion is physical, this means that it is physically taken off over time. The causes include sustained frictional or blunt damage your teeth get over time, due to external abrasive forces, or improper oral habits. Repeat occurrences usually take off more enamel. Intervention for this type of erosion often involves pinpointing practices that contribute to it and correcting them, either by oral appliances or lifestyle changes.
- Chemical. When enamel erosion is chemical, it usually comes from substances in the food you eat. One obvious offender is acid, which can be found in most carbonated or sour drinks. Other sources include chlorine from pools or certain medications. In this case, you can limit erosion by regulating your intake of abrasive substances in your diet or otherwise.