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Comparing Tooth Decay and Enamel Erosion

Most people will experience at least one cavity in their lifetimes. A dentist can easily treat this early stage of tooth decay, but you might not realize this is only one way your teeth can sustain structural damage. Enamel erosion poses a different type of threat to your oral health.

Your teeth, though durable, can erode or wear down for many reasons, making them vulnerable to cavities and other dental dangers. All of these dental problems will need treatment from a dentist to resolve, so do not delay your dental care. Read on to learn more about enamel erosion and how this can increase your risk of tooth decay.

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Structural Dental Damage from Enamel Erosion

The enamel refers to the strong, hard outer layer of the tooth which shield the more sensitive interior. Though your enamel withstands the stress of chewing and biting every day without issue normally, it may erode over time. This can occur for many reasons, including those outside of your control like aging.

A common cause of enamel erosion is consuming acidic substances. Acidic foods and drinks, like citrus fruits and juices, will eat away at your teeth when you eat them, causing major damage over time.

Sugar will also become acidic when it reacts with saliva and will therefore have the same effect on your dental health. To preserve your tooth enamel, you should limit these items in your diet. Habits like teeth grinding or poor oral hygiene can also contribute to enamel loss.

Once the enamel deteriorates, it will not regrow. Your dentist can replace weak enamel with restorative dental solutions, but ideally, you should protect your natural dental structure.

Some people do not realize that their dental structure has sustained damage, but it can present with noticeable symptoms. You might feel tooth sensitivity, for instance, where enamel has gone and exposed underlying dentin. You may also see discoloration in weakened parts of your tooth.

Bacterial Infection with Tooth Decay

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria penetrate the enamel of the tooth and begin to eat away at the dental structure. It is a separate type of enamel damage from erosion. But already weakened enamel is more susceptible to decay.

A cavity is a form of tooth decay that a dentist can treat easily by drilling away the damaged part of the tooth and filling the resulting hole with resin. This restores dental health, rebuilds the tooth, and protects it from further harm. But if you ignore a cavity, decay will progress further into the tooth.

A dentist can still treat this advanced decay, but you might need a dental crown rather than a filling to restore the dental structure. Symptoms of tooth decay include dark discoloration, tooth pain, and bad breath.

Call your dentist if you notice any of these symptoms or have questions about your dental health. Even slight pain in a tooth is abnormal and should warrant a dental evaluation.