What is Tooth Enamel Erosion and How Does it Affect Tooth Colour?

Published:September 3rd, 2014

teeth-sensitivityTooth enamel erosion is something that is worth taking seriously, especially if you’d like your teeth to look their best and to remain strong and healthy for longer. Your teeth are covered in a tough layer of enamel which is the hardest substance produced by the human body. The enamel covers the entire portion of the tooth that is visible above the gums, but this layer is quite thin.

In fact enamel is quite a translucent substance, and if the layer becomes substantially thinner this allows the natural colour of your teeth to shine through. This is contained in the main part of the tooth which is called the dentine, and which can be grey, white or yellowish in colour.

When this happens you might notice the colour of your teeth begins to darken.
Once tooth enamel is lost it cannot be replaced as it doesn’t contain any living cells. It helps protect your teeth against daily chewing and biting, but it can chip and crack. In addition to the enamel helps insulate your teeth against hot and cold substances, and this is one of the reasons why it’s not uncommon to find your teeth become more sensitive as the enamel becomes thinner. So what are the factors that can wear down tooth enamel? In fact there are quite a few including the following:

  • Drinking lots of soft drinks or fruit juice
  • Having dry mouth way you don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth comfortable
  • Having a diet that is high in carbohydrates and sugars
  • Having acid reflux disease
  • Taking certain medications for example antihistamines and aspirin
  • Digestion problems
  • Wear and tear that can be caused by tooth grinding and clenching
  • Enamel erosion can simply be down to genetics as some people don’t have such a thick layer of tooth enamel as others

You’re also more at risk of having tooth enamel erosion if you don’t clean your teeth regularly. This is because plaque can build up over your teeth, and the bacteria contained in plaque will produce acids that eat away the tooth enamel.

How to Prevent Tooth Enamel Erosion
If you can, it’s better to protect your tooth enamel and to prevent it from being eroded. This might mean changing your diet slightly to eliminate the amount of acidic foods and drinks consumed, or taking precautions such as rinsing your mouth with plain water immediately after eating these foods. It can also help to use a straw to drink acidic liquids, and to cut down on the number of sugary snacks eaten every day. In addition think about chewing sugar-free gum after meals as this helps stimulate the flow of saliva which washes away excess bacteria and food particles. Alternatively you could just drink more water throughout the day.

It also helps to talk to your dentist about how best to protect your teeth. Use good quality fluoride toothpaste, and ask your dentist if they’d recommend daily fluoride mouthwash to help provide additional protection. If you already have significant tooth enamel loss then your dentist might recommend protecting affected teeth through bonding them with tooth coloured composite resin or covering them up completely with veneers or crowns.

If you’re interested in whitening your teeth then it is best to check with your dentist first, especially if you do have thinner tooth enamel. You may need to whiten your teeth more slowly to prevent unwanted tooth sensitivity.

About the author

Alison, is a UK born and educated dental professional with over 25 years experience.

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