If you consume large amounts of acidic foods and beverages such as citrus fruits and coffee, or if you have acid reflux disease or take large doses of vitamin C or ascorbic acid supplements, you may be at risk for dental enamel loss.
Things that raise your risk for enamel loss or erosion also include aggressive brushing, plaque buildup, teeth grinding, and dry mouth. Tooth sensitivity is one of the first signs of enamel erosion, and if it is not quickly recognized and treated, complications can develop. Here are some negative consequences of enamel loss and what you can do about them:
If your tooth enamel thins or erodes, or if it is lost completely, dental nerve exposure may occur. If this happens, you may experience excruciating pain that is very resistant to over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen sodium.
Other non-prescription methods of pain relief include topical numbing gels. While rubbing a small amount of the numbing gel may help sooth superficial pain, it will not relieve the deep pain of an exposed tooth root. Your dentist will examine your teeth to determine the extent of enamel damage so that he or she can implement an effective treatment option.
The dentist may recommend a special toothpaste or oral rinse that will help strengthen your enamel and may also recommend that you limit your intake of acid foods, beverages, and dietary supplements. While your dentist is treating you for enamel erosion, limit your intake of acidic foods and ice cream, as these may cause significant dental pain.
Increased Cavity Risk
Strong tooth enamel can keep cavity-causing bacteria from invading the inside of your teeth. When the enamel weakens as a result of acid erosion, the protective barrier is gone, leaving your teeth susceptible to cavities. If not recognized and treated promptly, your cavity may progress to a dental abscess or a severe tooth infection. If you experience pain, swelling of the surrounding gum tissue, or an unpleasant taste in your mouth when you bite down, you may have a dental abscess.
The bad taste in your mouth may mean that your abscess has formed a pus pocket, and if it's not treated with antibiotics, you may develop a body-wide infection. If you wait too long to see your dentist, he or she may be unable to save your tooth and may recommend extraction.
It is important that you seek prompt treatment for your dental abscess because in rare cases, the infection can spread into your bloodstream, leading to a life-threatening infection known as sepsis. In addition to sepsis, severe cavity infections or abscesses can travel to your heart valves, and if not treated, it may lead to permanent cardiovascular damage.
Other infections that have the potential to progress to sepsis or infections of your heart valves include streptococcus throat infections and bacterial infections of the sinuses. Although sepsis can be treated when diagnosed in its earliest stages, if left to progress, you may need to be hospitalized so that intravenous antibiotic therapy can be implemented.
If you develop tooth sensitivity or believe that you may have a dental abscess, make an appointment with your dentist right away. When dental erosion, cavities, and tooth abscesses are recognized and treated in the early stages, you will be less likely to develop an increase in pain, septic blood infections, heart valve infections, or permanent damage to your cardiovascular health. While enamel erosion can be effectively treated in the early stages, if it's left to progress further, damage to your teeth may be so severe that your dentist's only option may be tooth extraction.