Teeth are one of the most important structures of the body. The set of 32 teeth not only masticate food consumed for easy digestion, they also give form and shape to the face. That is why teeth are also known as ‘pearlies’ because they look very much like pearls.
All of us have seen and wrinkled our noses at bad teeth- crooked, broken, stained and even gaps caused by missing teeth. We have all wondered what the reason for this could be.
Enamel erosion can occur at any age, but is very prevalent in children of ages 5-17
Let us take a look at the anatomy of a tooth
A full grown tooth has two parts:
- The visible part or crown which is above the gum
- The root and pulp which is embedded in the gum
The crown is made of :
Enamel- It is the hardest substance in the body. It forms the hard outer layer of the crown. Even though it is very strong, bad oral hygiene can cause decay and erosion.
Dentine- This forms the mass of the tooth. It is not very hard. Loss of dentine is one of the causes for sensitive teeth
Pulp-This is soft tissue carrying blood and nerves to the tooth enabling sensations like pain, sensitivity etc. The pulp extends from the root to the tip of the crown.
Enamel being the hardest substance is also subject to erosion.
What is Enamel Erosion?
Enamel erosion occurs when the enamel gets reduced or worn off because of chemical and acidic reactions. Dental erosion affects all age groups and is related to hypersensitivity of dentin. There are two types or enamel erosions :
- Intrinsic erosion — This is caused by gastric acid reactions in the mouth and acid formed due to medical or physiological conditions like acid reflux, or eating disorders
- Extrinsic erosion – Bad diets like over consumption of sugar, sugary beverages are a major cause of acid production in the mouth.
When the tooth enamel gets eroded, several things occur.
How to identify Enamel Erosion?
- Teeth become discoloured – Enamel gives teeth their colour. When enamel wears away and dentin is exposed, discolouration is actually the color of the exposed dentin.
- Tooth sensitivity – Tooth sensitivity occurs because the protective enamel has worn off and the exposed dentin is softer and is more sensitive to acid exposure hot and cold temperatures etc
- Transparency – The edge of front teeth start looking transparent
Such changes need medical intervention from qualified and expert dentists.
Common treatments for Enamel Erosion
- Acid-forming foods and drinks cause erosion and should be eliminated
- Desensitizing toothpaste with low abrasives should work well for pain relief.
- Sealants may help reduce or arrest the progress of erosion.
- Fluoride application will help increase acid resistance
Consultation with a good dentist will help control enamel erosion and improve the health of the teeth.
Is it possible for tooth enamel to grow back?
Enamel is one of the toughest substances in the human body. However, it does not have any living or an active cell which is why it is unable to repair itself – unlike other ‘live’ body cells when they undergo any physical or chemical damage. Ultimately, it means that enamel erosion is not reversible- enamel will not grow back.
Teeth are one of the most used parts of the body. Along with mouth, they form a gateway to the innermost sections of the body. There is a saying” you are what you eat.” The food looks after the body but the teeth look after the food. It is very necessary to have strong healthy teeth free of any disorder. This is possible but not easy without advice and guidance from dentists. Maintain oral hygiene and take care of your teeth to avoid multiple health problems.