Tooth Enamel Erosion and Restoration
Tooth enamel is the thin outer covering of the dentin, or inner core of the tooth which is responsible for your tooth’s color. Enamel is translucent so you can see the different colors of the dentin through it. Enamel can be stained from coffee, tea, cola, red wine, and cigarettes which cloud and disguise the dentin color. While enamel stains can be removed, the discolored dentin is unlikely change.
As we age, the enamel becomes thinner and the dentin darkens. Whitening is only meant to work on the enamel. Signs of erosion can include tooth sensitivity, indentions on the tooth surface and more cavities. Certain foods such as sweets and hot or cold food may cause sensitivity or pain. As enamel erodes, the edges of the teeth may become rough, irregular and jagged.
We may unintentionally contribute to tooth erosion by grinding teeth in our sleep, brushing too hard, flossing wrong, biting fingernails or other hard surfaces, and chewing tobacco. The teeth can also be eroded by highly acidic food and drinks (think soda), vomiting frequently, or alcoholism.
Too much plaque can also cause enamel erosion. It forms in all the tiny holes or pits in molars, around cavity fillings, and next to the gum line. Bacteria in plaque can change food starches into acids and eat away at the healthy minerals in tooth enamel. Over time the pits in the enamel grow in size.
While thin enamel can’t be repaired, dentists can provide treatment. In milder cases, bonding can be used. Resin is tinted to match your tooth and is applied over the damage. Once it is hardened, it is bonded to your tooth and then trimmed and polished to fit into your mouth. Another method for more severe erosion is the use of a crown. Crowns will cap the tooth with a new one that will protect the damaged areas. A crown solves the sensitivity issue and protects your teeth from further decay.