Enamel Erosion & Tooth Wear

At Thames Street Dental, we believe that preventative dental care is key to our patients’ dental and oral health, so we wanted to write about a topic which effects everyone at some point – yellow teeth, caused by enamel erosion. which cause your teeth to wear.

What is Enamel Erosion?

Enamel erosion relates to the irreversible loss of tooth surface by acids in the mouth produced from what we eat and drink. Initially, it is the wearing away of the hardest substance in the human body; the enamel (the outermost layer). Repeated exposure to acid from food, drink or from the stomach due to sickness is what causes the loss of further tooth structure. Unfortunately, once the enamel has been lost, it is gone for good.

What causes it?

Foods such as lemons and other citrus fruits can cause tooth enamel erosion. Whilst fizzy drinks, wine and squash are more obvious culprits, fruit juices are also known to cause the enamel to erode. It is a slow and progressive problem, so most people may not notice it straight away, but only once significant damage has already occurred.

What are the signs of erosion?

Sensitive Teeth

One of the first signs you may notice is that your teeth may become more sensitive than usual. The enamel is the outer protective layer and once that starts becoming thin you get more exposure to the dentine layer underneath, which causes more sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks.

Discoloured/Yellow Teeth

Enamel is whiter in colour than dentine, so once the enamel becomes eroded, the yellower dentine becomes more visible, leading to yellow teeth.
During the early stages of tooth wear, as the enamel thins, it may still appear the same colour hence you may not realise there is a problem until the enamel has completely eroded.

Yellow Teeth

What treatments are available?

It always best to visit a dentist regularly so the Dentist can detect any early signs and inform you of a potential problem in the future. By changing habits at this stage, may still save you from treatment in the future, and may help prevent further damage to your teeth.

Without regular dental check-ups, erosion of the enamel is often not noticeable – and by the time it is noticeable, it has completely eroded. This causes restoration to damaged teeth more difficult and can be costly.

Your dentist can try to replace lost enamel with a dental filling, crown or veneer, but the materials used for these treatments will never be as strong as the original enamel. Composite fillings can be used to restore teeth with minimal damage, but they need maintenance over time, and replacing as they wear down.

What can be done to protect my teeth from acid erosion?

Try and reduce the amount and frequency of acid intake in your diet. For example:

  • Instead of having two glasses of fruit juice, have just one.
  • It is better if you have acidic drinks during mealtimes rather than in between meals.
  • You can also counteract the acid with alkaline by drinking it with a glass of water or milk.
  • Instead of having two oranges, have just one and then eat a piece of cheese afterwards.
  • Try not to eat or drink anything acidic just before bed – You should wait thirty minutes before brushing your teeth after eating or drinking.
  • To reduce the impact of acidic drinks, you can also water down drinks such as fruit juice or squash and drink them through a straw to limit their contact with the teeth.

There is no need to cut out acidic fruits completely, as they do form part of a healthy diet – just try not to be excessive with them.

If you feel your enamel is starting to wear away, you can switch to a toothpaste such as Sensodyne Pronamel which can help to re-harden then enamel.

In summary, acid can be very damaging to your teeth, but early detection and prevention can make all the difference. Be more conscious of your acid intake in your diet and be sure to attend regular dental check-ups to detect any tooth wear before it gets worse.

If you have started to notice your teeth have become yellow, it may not be too late to prevent your enamel from completely eroding – please contact us to book in an dental check-up with a Dentist.