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Tooth Erosion: Causes and Treatment Options

By Roni S. Berbari, DMD on April 13, 2015

An older woman with a full, healthy smile    When restorative dentistry is mentioned, many patients think of filling cavities or using X-rays to check for tooth decay. In fact, one of the best ways to ensure a healthy smile is to look directly at the surfaces of teeth: at the top layer of enamel. Enamel erosion is a common problem caused by a variety of everyday sources, and one that can affect the health, comfort, and appearance of teeth. Furthermore, once enamel is eroded, it cannot grow back, requiring restorative treatment to fix. To help you better understand this problem and how you can prevent or address it, take the following information into consideration, as offered by our Montreal dental practice.

What Causes Tooth Erosion?

Despite its relative strength, tooth enamel is not impervious to damage. Over time, a variety of physical and chemical factors can take a toll on our teeth. Take note of the following ways in which enamel can erode over the years:

  • Aggressive brushing habits
  • Consumption of acidic drinks (e.g., soft drinks and fruit juices) 
  • Consumption of sugary or starchy foods
  • Exposure to stomach acid from GERD (acid reflux)
  • Exposure to stomach acid from vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Habitual chewing on hard objects (e.g., nails or pens)
  • Habitual teeth grinding, also called bruxism

In many cases, brushing one’s teeth too aggressively and/or with a hard-bristled toothbrush is primarily to blame. Still, speak with your dentist about any of the above factors if you notice erosion marks on your teeth. Through a detailed discussion of your daily lifestyle, you may gain some insight as to how to better preserve your enamel. 

Treatment via Dental Bonding

In most cases, tooth erosion can be conveniently treated through dental bonding. This procedure utilizes composite resin, a tooth-colored material that can be painted over teeth before being hardened and bonded to them. Because composite resin is a durable material, it effectively protects the tooth as if it were covered by a full later of enamel. Moreover, composite resin can be applied in nearly any way, easily filling cracks or patches of lost tooth tissue.

Dental bonding is particularly useful in its efficiency: it is simply applied over the area in thin layers until the tooth’s structure is adequately replaced. It requires no preparation, results in little if any discomfort, and can be performed in a single visit, often in an hour or less. Although composite resin does not typically last as long as some other dental materials, such as porcelain, many patients can go ten years before needing a touch-up on their bonded restorations. 

Treatment via Porcelain Veneers

For patients with severe or widespread erosion, porcelain veneers may provide more satisfying results. Rather than filling the eroded areas with resin, veneers are crafted to replicate the entire front surfaces of teeth and are permanently cemented on. The enamel is replaced entirely, and any cosmetic imperfections are covered in the process. When multiple veneers are placed, patients essentially leave the office with a new, improved smile altogether. Porcelain is longer lasting and more realistic looking than composite resin, making it an ideal material for replacing enamel. And because veneers normally require the removal of enamel for placement, patients who suffer from eroded enamel may already be good candidates for treatment. 

Contact Us Today

With multiple cosmetic and restorative options available to you, choosing the best method of treatment can be a nuanced decision. Tooth erosion can be especially tricky to self-assess, as patients may have a difficult time judging how the results of various treatment options will look. For more information on treating tooth erosion or another problem, contact our dental office to schedule your next appointment

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