Tooth enamel is the hard outer covering of the crown. The crown is the part of the tooth that rises above the gum line. Tooth enamel is translucent in color, but it is also very fragile. Tooth enamel is not responsible for the color of the tooth. Because it is translucent, the dentin that lies beneath the enamel layer is visible through the enamel, and this dentin is most responsible for tooth color. Staining does effect the color of the tooth greatly and are known as surface stains because of their location, but dentin is by far most responsible for the tooth’s appearance. Staining occurs from drinking certain items, food items and health. In particular, certain medications may cause the enamel to discolor. Although very fragile, tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, but it does not replenish itself when lost. Because of this, great attention should be given to the care of the enamel and dental health in general.
People most often loose tooth enamel because of acidic drinks and poor dental habits. However, some drinks may stain teeth without impairing tooth enamel. Conversely, other drinks can severely erode tooth enamel without staining the teeth. Sustained periodic dentist’s visits are the key to dental health, but this is even more important for those that consume acidic drinks regularly, have health issues, ingest certain medications, or that have previously practiced poor dental hygiene. However, people with good dental habits can still suffer from eroded enamel because certain environmental factors affect the tooth surface. These conditions include normal wear and tear, stress and even friction. Friction can be more prevalent in areas that are arid and windy causing more wear because of the sandy, wind driven environment.
However, friction does occur naturally through other processes like attrition, abrasion and multiple other factors. Attrition is one of the most common. This occurs when people grind their teeth or clinch jaw muscles causing tooth on tooth contact. Abrasion occurs when the teeth are ground from contacting other hard substances. These hard substances can be anything, but they often occur from chewing foreign items like fingernails. However, it also occur from chewing things as soft as tobacco. Enamel is not living tissue, but the erosion of the enamel layer can cause pain on many levels because it exposes the living inner tissue of the tooth. This makes eroded teeth sensitive to certain temperature ranges and certain chemicals. In severe cases, even wind can cause pain in impaired teeth. Levels of pain vary depending on condition, but they all have the effect of degrading quality of life in those that suffer from tooth enamel erosion.
Another increasingly common cause of tooth enamel erosion is GERD. GERD is also known as acid reflux, and this condition is very detrimental to tooth enamel because it exposes the tooth surface to stomach acid. Stomach acid is one of the most caustic acids in existence. This acid causes aggressive, acute damage to tooth enamel as well as the esophageal issues it causes. Often acid reflux is diagnosed because people suffering from this serious issue begin to experience issues with tooth sensitivity. Prior to experiencing issues with tooth sensitivity, these people may have dismissed GERD as simple indigestion. Acid reflux is a much more serious malady than simple indigestion and must be treated aggressively. Treating this issue is the only method by which the erosion can be abated effectively.
Stress can also degrade the quality of the tooth surface, but is commonly not considered. Stress can cause a person to grind their teeth excessively. Stress can also cause other issues like heart disease. Diseases like heart disease may have GERD as a symptom. This occurs because in times of stress the body may create more acid in the stomach. However, processes as simple as brushing the teeth too hard, or flossing improperly can degrade tooth enamel. Additionally, some groups of people have a genetic predisposition to tooth enamel erosion. There is no method for replenish tooth enamel, but there are multiple treatments available for erosion and the pain caused by the condition. These methods include procedures like bonding and the use of crowns. Does tooth enamel grow back, no. However, the most effective method for preventing, arresting and treating tooth erosion is to visit the dentist regularly.