Tooth Enamel: What causes eroding?

Tooth Enamel: What causes eroding?

Tooth enamel is the hard outer covering of our teeth. The enamel helps to protect the more delicate interior tissues of the teeth and covers the tooth’s crown – the part of the tooth that protrudes out of the gum tissue and what we see in the mirror. Tooth enamel can be eroded through a number of ways, leading to cavities and tooth decay. Regular dental care through brushing and flossing, combined with a dentist’s examination at regular intervals are actions required to help the enamel stay strong.

We put our teeth through a lot of punishment, and the tooth’s enamel bears the brunt of much of that punishment. Enamel helps to protect our teeth throughout our daily lives, whether biting, chewing, grinding, or crunching. Not only does enamel protect our teeth from such actions, it also helps to insulate the sensitive tissues beneath the tooth’s crown from extremes of temperatures. [pullquote]Tooth enamel erosion occurs most often when acids are allowed to attack the tooth’s structure.[/pullquote]

Tooth enamel erosion occurs most often when acids are allowed to attack the tooth’s structure. These acids can be intrinsic in nature – i.e they are produced by the body, through acid reflux, or vomiting; or extrinsic in nature, such as through consumption of acidic beverages and citrus fruits, brushing teeth too hard, or from certain medications.

Tooth enamel erosion is often the result of the chemical interaction of acids with the surfaces of the tooth. These acids will gradually dissolve and erode the protective tooth enamel from the surface of the tooth. Tooth enamel has no living cellular component, and so cannot regenerate itself. Once it is damaged through erosion, it will always remain damaged.

Dental plaque can also lead to erosion of tooth enamel and tooth decay. Plaque is a naturally occurring, sticky substance that coats the teeth. Although regular brushing can remove and slow the production of plaque on teeth, plaque can not be completely eradicated. If left on the teeth for prolonged spells, plaque acid can begin to erode tooth enamel.

Plaque begins to harden after 48 hours into a substance called tartar. Tartar is much more difficult to remove – brushing alone is often insufficient to remove tartar – and often requires professional cleaning by a dental professional in order to remove it. Tartar can spread below the gumline, allowing bacteria to gain access to the tooth’s roots and leads to gum disease and tooth loss.

For additional information and to schedule your next professional dental exam and cleaning, contact the office of Dr. Mark E. Massaro at 918-779-3399 today.