Dental Erosion Nearly Ruined My Smile
I’ll never forget how, on the day I finally got my dental braces off, dental erosion nearly ruined my perfect new smile.
I remember being so excited to go out and show off my new teeth. I felt like I was shedding my last layer of ‘school nerd’ and finally transforming into a ‘cool teen’.
Unfortunately, my perfect smile was somewhat short-lived.
That night my friend decided it would be hilarious to hit the bottom of my beer bottle while I was drinking from it, fracturing my front tooth.
Suddenly my new smile looked like this…
Dental Erosion – It Was My Fault
But when I got to the dentist, he told me off! Apparently the reason my tooth had broken was because my teeth had been weakened by dental erosion and it was my fault.
(Now that I’m a dentist, I do think that if he’d told me I had dental erosion sooner, I could have done something about it!)
What is Dental Erosion?
Research tells us that dental erosion is the loss of dental hard tissues by acids.
Acids that cause dental erosion can come from:
- outside your body (extrinsic) from your diet
- inside your body (intrinsic) due to acid reflux or excessive vomiting
What Does Dental Erosion Look Like?
Because dental erosion appears as the wearing away of the surface of the teeth, your teeth may look shiny or they may have craters in the surface.
Often your teeth may appear yellow because when the enamel wears away, the yellow dentine underneath becomes exposed in your mouth.
Here are some good pictures of dental erosion.
My dentist said the enamel edges of my two front teeth had become so thin that the small bump from the bottle had been enough to fracture the tooth. The edges of my front teeth had become see-through and grey.
Your teeth can also become sensitive, because the enamel no longer protects the sensitive dentine.
What Causes Dental Erosion?
There are three causes of dental erosion:
Acidic foods and drinks cause dental erosion.
Fizzy drinks, fruit juices, smoothies and sports drinks are the worst culprits.
According to this study on dental erosion, the longer they’re in your mouth, the more damage they can do. So sipping on a can of juice throughout the day or drinking between meals carries more of a risk of dental erosion.
2. Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease
Acid reflux causes acid to come up from your stomach into your mouth and this can cause dental erosion. Your dentist may ask if you suffer from heartburn, which is a symptom of reflux.
3. Excessive Vomiting
Excessive vomiting due to bulimia or alcoholism can cause dental erosion due to the amount of acid in vomit.
In my case, it was a combination of drinking Diet Coke between meals (even sugar-free drinks have acid!) and supping on alco pops at the weekends (it was the 90’s!)
Losing part of my front tooth scared me so much that I gave up fizzy drinks and alco pops that day.
Can I Prevent Dental Erosion?
Yes! You can prevent dental erosion. Changing my habits mean I’ve managed to prevent my dental erosion getting worse. Here’s how:
Find out more about preventing dental erosion.
Can My Dentist Fix Dental Erosion?
Dental erosion may not need to be fixed, your dentist might monitor it and give you advice on how to stop it getting worse.
If you have sensitivity, your dentist may cover the tooth with a varnish or tooth-coloured filling material (composite). They may also use composite if they want to protect the tooth or to make it look better.
Find out more about composite bonding.
Here’s a picture of the treatment of dental erosion in a back tooth with composite bonding by our dentist Ainsley Robertson, at Coatbridge Family Dental Care.
In my case, because it was a front tooth (and I was an emotional teen), my dentist bonded on some composite and my smile looked as good as new!
And off I went back out onto the town, trying to avoid the alco pops and on the hunt for my best friend (to say thank you of course – she’s the reason I caught my dental erosion before it caused any major problems.)
I’m Worried I have Dental Erosion – What Should I Do?
If you think you have dental erosion the first thing you should do is contact your dentist and arrange an appointment.
You can contact our team at Coatbridge Family Dental Care on 01236 421103 or message us here.
We’re always happy to help.