When your tooth enamel has been worn away and affected by acids, it constitutes tooth erosion. Enamel is the hardest protective substance in our body's, and it covers and protects the outside of our teeth. Symptoms of tooth erosion can vary from sensitivity to hot and cold liquids and foods, to more severe problems such as a cracked tooth. We wanted to compile a list of signs and symptoms to watch out for if you or a loved one is concerned about teeth erosion.
Early Symptoms of Tooth Erosion
- Discoloration: When tooth erosion occurs, it exposes the dentin of the tooth, which can cause yellowing and discoloration of the teeth. The more dentin that's exposed, the more yellow the teeth will become since dentin is naturally yellow in color. The discoloration affects the tooth itself; this is different than simply getting yellow or brown stains from smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, or overall poor dental hygiene. These are two separate and entirely different issues.
- Rounded Teeth: This normally occurs during the earlier stages of tooth erosion. The ridges of the enamel on your teeth wear away, leaving a flatter and rounder looking shape to your teeth. The sharper, more canine-like edges of the teeth will also appear duller and more round because the enamel wears away across the parts of the tooth that most commonly interact with food.
- Tooth Sensitivity: This is one of the most common symptoms of tooth erosion because the enamel that protects the teeth has begun wearing away, leaving the dentin exposed and vulnerable. This dentin, which is less hard than enamel is also more sensitive to varying temperatures and more prone to decay.
- Glassy, Transparent, or Sandblasted Appearance: Another symptom that can appear during the early stages of tooth erosion is for the teeth to acquire a sandblasted look or for the tips of the front teeth to seem glassy or clear. This is a sign that the enamel is starting to succumb to erosion; the transparency is a reaction to both the thinning of the enamel and the yellow hue of the underlying dentin.
Advanced Symptoms of Tooth Erosion
- Cracked Tooth or Teeth: When tooth erosion is left untreated the edges of the teeth can begin to crack and have a rough, rugged feeling. At this level, the acids and bacteria in the mouth can begin penetrating the tooth and lead to a wide variety of issues like cavities, or severe decay that can potentially require a root canal, crowns, caps, or extraction.
- Extreme Sensitivity: During tooth erosion, the enamel is worn away and teeth can become extremely sensitive to very hot or cold temperatures. This can induce a very sharp, piercing pain shooting through the mouth and jaw. It can become increasingly uncomfortable to eat and drink regularly.
- Dents: Also referred to as 'cupping', little dents appear on the areas where you bite down. These dents shown were the enamel has eroded at different levels.
How To Prevent Tooth Erosion
If you spot early signs and symptoms of tooth erosion, it's best to receive a full-scale, comprehensive examination with your trusted dental professional. The longer it's passed over, the higher the risk you become to require more expensive and in-depth reconstructive procedures or painful experiences such as root canal. By practicing regular and routine dental habits such as brushing twice daily and flossing at least once daily, along with consulting your doctor and get annual exams can all help protect your mouth and pearly whites from erosion. Have you found any helpful tips or signals that have pointed to tooth erosion? Let us know!