Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Oral Care

Select An Article
Font Size

Tooth Enamel Erosion and Restoration

(continued)

What are the environmental causes of tooth surface erosion? continued...

Saliva plays a key role in keeping teeth healthy and strong. Not only does saliva increase the health of the body tissues, it protects enamel by coating the teeth in protective calcium and other minerals. Saliva also dilutes erosive agents such as acid, removes waste material from the mouth, and boosts protective substances that help fight mouth bacteria and disease.

In a healthy mouth, calcium-rich saliva helps strengthen your teeth, even if you drink an acidic soda or juice. Yet when you go overboard and ingest a lot of acidic foods and beverages, this strengthening process on the teeth no longer occurs.

Does plaque cause enamel erosion?

Plaque is a sticky film made up of saliva, food particles, bacteria, and other substances. Plaque forms between your teeth and gets inside tiny holes or pits in the molars. It also gets around your cavity fillings and next to the gum line where the teeth and gums meet.

Sometimes the bacteria in plaque changes food starches into acids. When this happens, the acids in plaque start to eat away at the healthy minerals in the tooth enamel. This causes the enamel to wear down and become pitted. Over time, the pits in the enamel increase and grow in size.

What are the signs of enamel erosion?

The signs of enamel erosion can vary, depending on the stage. Some signs may include:

  • Sensitivity. Certain foods (sweets) and temperatures of foods (hot or cold) may cause a twinge of pain in the early stage of enamel erosion.
  • Discoloration. As the enamel erodes and more dentin is exposed, the teeth may appear yellow.
  • Cracks and chips. The edges of teeth become more rough, irregular, and jagged as enamel erodes.
  • Severe, painful sensitivity. In later stages of enamel erosion, teeth become extremely sensitive to temperatures and sweets. You may feel a painful jolt that takes your breath away.
  • Cupping. Indentations appear on the surface of the teeth.

When enamel erodes, the tooth is more susceptible to cavities or tooth decay. When the tooth decay enters the hard enamel, it has entry to the main body of the tooth.

Small cavities may cause no problems at first. But as cavities grow and penetrate the tooth, they can affect the tiny nerve fibers, resulting in an extremely painful abscess or infection.

WebMD Medical Reference

Next Article:

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

Get the latest Oral Health newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

big smile
Article
Man grinding teeth
Article
 
Is Diabetes Affecting Your Mouth
Tool
how your mouth impacts your health
Slideshow
 

are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
bpa dental sealants
Video
 
Healthy Mouth Slideshow
Video
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 

15 myths and facts about cavities
Video
how healthy is your mouth
Video
 
elmo brushing teeth
fitVideo
5 ways to prevent diabetes dental problems
Video