Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the body. It covers the visible part of the tooth called the crown, and unlike other parts of the mouth, it does not have blood vessels or nerves.
How Does Tooth Enamel Develop?
Enamel, a component of tooth development, starts to form in the crown stage through amelogenesis or enamel formation. The process begins with the establishment of dentin through ameloblast cells.
What Does Enamel Do?
As the outer layer of the tooth, enamel serves as a protective barrier against harmful bacteria and acids that can attack the teeth and cause dental problems. It also protects the teeth from the pressure and stress of their daily use, including chewing, biting, and grinding. Moreover, it works as an insulator for temperatures and chemicals that may be potentially harmful to the teeth.
Tooth Enamel Wear
The enamel on your teeth is the outer layer. It is the first line of defense against oral attackers, protecting the teeth from everyday use, acid from oral bacteria, and the impact of your normal biting habits.
As a result of contact with various chemicals from food, drink, and even smoking, enamel wear occurs. Although the saliva neutralizes the acids in the mouth and maintains its balance, too much exposure can lead to enamel erosion as the saliva cannot keep up with the acids.
Causes of Tooth Enamel Wear
Enamel wear or erosion can occur when acids erode the tooth's enamel. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including the following:
- Low salivary flow or dry mouth
- Acid reflux
- A high amount of starch and sugar in the diet
- Medications such as antihistamine and aspirin
- Highly acidic drinks or food, such as the excessive consumption of soda
- Gastrointestinal problems
Environmental Causes of Tooth Enamel Wear
Any combination of stress, wear and tear, corrosion, and friction can cause the tooth surface to erode. Other names for these terms include:
- Abfraction happens when the tooth cracks from being bent or flexed too far.
- Attrition describes tooth friction, usually when people grind their teeth.
- Abrasion is when the surface of the tooth emerges. It's common in people who use their teeth for things other than eating (opening packages, bottles, etc.).
In some cases, enamel deficiency results from hereditary diseases or developmental issues that occur throughout crucial developmental periods. Currently, two common disorders lead to teeth lacking enamel:
Enamel hypoplasia: When someone has enamel hypoplasia, their teeth tend to have depressions in the form of pits and grooves. They may also have white or yellowish spots on the teeth and be sensitive to the temperature. Factors that can increase this risk include congenital issues and hereditary factors.
Hypomineralization: This is another factor contributing to a lack of enamel. 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.
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 or not.
For the most part, two factors typically contribute to erosion:
Physical. When enamel erosion is physical, it gradually wears away physically. The causes include long-term frictional or blunt damage to your teeth from harsh external forces or poor oral habits. In addition, repeat occurrences usually take off more enamel. To treat this kind of erosion, it is frequently necessary to identify the activities that cause it and eliminate them, either by dental appliances or a lifestyle change.
Chemical. Chemical enamel erosion typically results from items you consume. Acid, which can be present in most carbonated or sour drinks, is one obvious problem. Other factors include pool chlorine or specific medicines. In this situation, you can prevent erosion by controlling the number of abrasives you consume through your diet or in different ways.
Signs Of Enamel Wear
Tooth sensitivity is a sign of an early enamel erosion stage wherein the teeth become sensitive to some foods and drinks, especially sweets and those with high temperatures.
Tooth discoloration is a condition wherein the tooth appears yellow. Dentin exposure brought on by enamel deterioration is what causes the discoloration.
Cracked and chipped tooth as it becomes more jagged, irregular, and rough due to the erosion.
There are different types of treatments available for enamel wear. Depending on the degree or extent of the problem, the recommended treatment may include bonding, veneer, or crown. Talk to your dentist to know more about your options.
You can also get treatments to reduce the effects of the symptoms of enamel wear, such as tooth sensitivity, tooth discoloration, cracked or chipped teeth, and indentations on the tooth's surface.
Like most dental problems, enamel erosion is preventable with proper oral hygiene such as brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash. Fluoride treatments can also help strengthen the tooth's enamel.
Additionally, it is essential to avoid food and beverages, significantly those high in sugar and acids, that can potentially damage the enamel. Using a straw when drinking acidic liquids is better to prevent contact with the teeth. Reduce your snacking habits as well because they increase the risk of tooth decay.
Additionally, accompany your food consumption with water to ensure an adequate amount of saliva and prevent the occurrence of dry mouth. Finally, try chewing sugar-free gums to boost saliva production.