According to the Canadian Dental Association, there are a significant number of Canadians who suffer from enamel erosion. Because enamel plays a vital role in protecting your teeth from decay, it’s best to do everything that you can to prevent your enamel from eroding.

What is tooth enamel?

Enamel is a mineral that acts as a strong barrier for your teeth sheilding the inner layers from your teeth from the effects of acids and plaque as well as hot and cold foods. It’s one of the hardest tissues in your body, however similar to bones in your body, once the enamel is gone, the lost portion can’t ever be replaced; however if it has become weakened, it can be restored.

Here are some causes of tooth enamel erosion:

  • Acidic drinks (e.g. citrus juices, pop, etc.)
  • Starches and sugars
  • Medical conditions like acid reflux disease, dry mouth, inherited genetic conditions, low salivary flow and gastrointestinal problems
  • Wear and tear, teeth grinding (bruxism), friction, brushing too hard, brushing when tooth enamel is softened
  • Poor oral hygiene can cause enamel erosion

How you can spot tooth erosion?

Early detection and treatment of tooth decay is important, so here are some symptoms to look out for.

  • Tooth sensitivity: your teeth may hurt when you eat very hot or cold foods, when you brush, or when your gum line is exposed to air
  • Yellow teeth: when your teeth appear to be yellow, the enamel is so thin, you’re actually seeing the dentin (which is yellow in colour)
  • Uneven edges: when your tooth enamel wears away, it can result in rough edges, chips and cracks
  • Dental spots: shiny white spots on your teeth is indicative of demineralization. Dark, brown or other forms of discolouration may be signs of a cavity
  • Increased tooth decay: when the protective surface on your teeth becomes worn down, your teeth become more susceptible to cavities
  • Tooth fracturing: as enamel grows weaker, your teeth eventually become weaker which can cause cracks and fractures
  • Bad breath: pesky, stuck-on bacteria causes plaque build up which causes bad breath. Depending on the severity of the build-up this may weaken the tooth pulp within the gum line which can also often emit bad odours

Prevention and restoration techniques: 

Since it’s impossible for your body to make new enamel, your goal should be to strengthen and repair the enamel you have. One of the best ways to restore your tooth enamel is to maintain good oral hygiene. The Oral Health Foundation recommends these steps to help prevent tooth enamel erosion:

  • Brushing and flossing your teeth daily and after every meal
  • Little to no consumption of too sugars, snacks and acidic foods (i.e. sports drinks, fruits like lemons, oranges, etc.)
  • Avoiding mouthwashes and toothpastes that contain alcohol in it
  • Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth
  • Chewing sugar-free gum after eating to maintain a steady saliva flow
  • Receiving regular hygiene appointments with your dentist (minimum of twice a year)

April is National Oral Health Month. Each year, approximately 3,200 Canadians are diagnosed with oral cancer with 1,050 deaths occurring. This is why Altima Dental offers free oral cancer health screenings each April, as we strive to detect and prevent oral cancer. To learn more about enamel erosion and your overall oral health, visit one of our locations to speak to our dentists and receive a free oral cancer screening.