Protecting Your Smile: Understanding Enamel Erosion

09 June 2023 | News

If the enamel is damaged or dissolved. Is there a way back or is that it?

Enamel is the thin outer covering of the tooth. This tough shell is the hardest tissue in the human body. Enamel covers the crown which is the part of the tooth that’s visible outside of the gums. Because enamel is translucent, you can see light through it. But the main portion of the tooth, the dentin, is the part that’s responsible for your tooth colour — whether white, off white, grey, or yellowish. Sometimes coffee, tea, cola, red wine, fruit juices, and cigarettes stain the enamel on your teeth. Regular visits to your dentist for routine cleaning and polishing can help remove most surface stains and make sure your teeth stay healthy.

What does tooth enamel do?

Enamel helps protect your teeth from daily use such as chewing, biting, crunching, and grinding. Although enamel is a hard protector of teeth, it can chip and crack. Enamel also insulates the teeth from potentially painful temperatures and chemicals. When it erodes, you may notice that you react more to hot or cold foods, drinks, and sweets, since they can get through holes in your enamel to the nerves inside.

Can enamel erosion be reversed?

Chairperson, Dr Greg Miller, recently discussed enamel erosion during an interview with Paul Gough on Mornings on ABC Radio. Dr Greg Miller says it can be reversed, but it needs to be done so in a reasonably expedient way. This is why we recommend brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, and this is why we have other remineralising agents to try to recharge the tooth. So essentially, there’s this complex interplay of tooth structure, loss, dissolution through acid, attack by acids from decay causing bacteria and then recharge from the saliva and from the materials and ions that are within the saliva.

It’s important to take care of our saliva and prevent dry mouth by using fluoridated toothpaste, drinking water, and rinsing your mouth after consuming acidic food and sugary drinks. Acid reflux can also damage teeth, and in such cases, neutralising the acids can be helpful. Reparative techniques can cover any unsightly or sensitive damage, but it’s best to avoid the need for intervention and additional costs.

Options for Treating Enamel Erosion

If you’ve experienced significant enamel erosion, a dentist can help you with a few techniques. The first is called tooth bonding.

Bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-coloured material known as resin is applied to stained or damaged teeth. The resin can cover up discolourations and protect your tooth. You may want to consider tooth bonding if enamel erosion has caused discolourations on your front teeth.

In more severe cases, your dentist may add a veneer or crown to your damaged teeth to prevent further decay. The best way to treat enamel erosion is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Even if you already have some enamel erosion, you can still prevent it from becoming worse by practising good oral hygiene.

If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to your local dentist.