Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Erosion

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Tooth erosion constitutes the wearing away of tooth enamel by acid. The enamel is the hard substance that covers and protects the outside of the tooth. It is also the hardest substance in our bodies. Symptoms of tooth erosion can range from sensitivity to hot and cold to more severe problems such as cracking.

Early Symptoms of Tooth Erosion

Discoloration—Because the dentin of the tooth is exposed during tooth erosion, discoloration or yellowing of the teeth can occur.

The more dentin that is exposed, the more yellow the teeth will become because dentin is naturally yellow. This discoloration, importantly, is to the tooth itself; yellowed teeth that appear as such due to poor dental hygiene or consumption of tobacco products constitute an entirely different problem.

Tooth SensitivitySensitive teeth are very common symptoms of tooth erosion because the enamel that protects the teeth wears away, leaving exposed dentin. This dentin, which is less hard than the enamel, is also more sensitive to temperature and more prone to decay.

Rounded Teeth—During the early stages of tooth erosion, it is common for teeth to have a rounded look. The ridges of the enamel wear away, leaving a flatter or more rounded surface; similarly, the sharper edges of teeth like canines and incisors will also appear rounded because the enamel wears away across the parts of the tooth most commonly in contact with food.

Transparent or Sandblasted Appearance— It is not uncommon in the early stages of tooth erosion for the teeth to have a sandblasted look or for the tips of the front teeth to look transparent. The pitting is a sign that the enamel is starting to succumb to erosion; the transparency is a function of both the thinning of the enamel and the relative yellowness of the underlying dentin.

Advanced Symptoms of Tooth Erosion

Cracked tooth—If tooth erosion continues into the advanced stage, the edges of the teeth can start to crack and have a rough feeling. At this point, acids and bacteria in the mouth will penetrate the tooth, leading to problems ranging from cavities to radical decay of the tooth potentially requiring extraction, root canals, and caps or crowns.

Dents—Little dents, also called cupping, can start to appear on the biting areas of the teeth. These dents show where the enamel has eroded inconsistently. 

Extreme Sensitivity—Since the enamel wears away during tooth erosion, the teeth can become extremely sensitive during the advanced stages of tooth erosion. Exposing the affected tooth to very hot or very cold temperatures can induce sharp, stabbing pains in the mouth and jaw.

Prevention

If you show any of the early or advanced symptoms of tooth erosion, seek a comprehensive examination with a trusted dental professional in your community. The longer you wait to address enamel erosion, the higher your risk becomes of requiring more expensive and extensive dental reconstructive procedures or painful experiences like root canals. 

Prevention, of course, is worth a pound of cure, so take steps on your own to prevent tooth erosion.

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