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Restorative Dentistry

Understanding Causes of Tooth Erosion and How it can be Treated

144913813-xsTooth erosion is a serious dental problem that causes patients to lose healthy tooth enamel, weakening the teeth and potentially causing heightened sensitivity and discomfort. While the ultimate effects of tooth erosion are very similar to those of tooth decay, patients should be aware that they are two very different conditions. It is important to understand the causes of tooth erosion so that patients know how best to avoid this condition. When tooth erosion has occurred, our skilled dental team at Dentistry at 1818 offer our Philadelphia patients restorative dentistry treatments to rebuild tooth structure and strengthen the teeth so that they are, once again, fully functional.

What Causes Tooth Erosion?

While decay is the result of harmful bacteria buildup, tooth erosion has a different source. The primary causes of tooth erosion are exposure to acid and excessive abrasion, both of which break down tooth enamel and weaken tooth structure.

  • Acid exposure: The most common cause of tooth erosion is an overly acidic oral environment. Teeth that are consistently exposed to acidic foods and beverages are likely to become structurally damaged. There are a great number of foods and beverages that can throw off the pH balance in the mouth, creating an acidic environment. These include coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, citruses, and apples. Those who suffer from eating disorders or gastrointestinal problems are also vulnerable to tooth erosion, as these conditions may introduce stomach acid to the mouth on a fairly frequent basis.
  • Abrasion: Abrasion and excessive force can also cause tooth erosion. When the teeth are exposed to pressure and force beyond what they are built to sustain, the enamel will erode and break down. Habits that put excessive force on the teeth include clenching, teeth grinding, and nail biting. Hard and sticky foods should also be limited in order to preserve tooth enamel.

Treating Tooth Erosion

While the causes of tooth erosion and tooth decay are different, the effects are the same. The teeth will become weak and sensitive. This will compromise oral functions and is likely to cause some degree of pain or discomfort. The teeth also become vulnerable to extensive tooth decay or infection because the protective layer of enamel has been compromised. Because the results of tooth erosion and tooth decay are the same, the conditions are treated in the same way. We offer our patients a full range of restorative dental treatments that includes dental fillings, inlays and onlays, and dental crowns. Depending on the extent of tooth damage, one of these treatments will be recommended to rebuild tooth structure. In the most extreme cases, we may recommend tooth extraction. If this is the case, a dental bridge or dental implants can be offered to replace a tooth or teeth that have been lost to tooth erosion.

Schedule an Appointment

If you have experienced pain or heightened tooth sensitivity, you may be suffering from tooth erosion. At a dental exam at Dentistry at 1818, one of our experienced dentists can determine if tooth erosion is present and recommend a treatment best suited to the degree of erosion that has occurred. To restore comfort, strength, and function to your teeth, schedule an appointment with one of our skilled dentists as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing from you!