​Dental Erosions

Dental erosion describes where tooth enamel starts to wear away. This enamel forms a sort of thin but strong protective layer of your teeth that make daily tasks such as chewing, biting and crushing painless. It also helps to insulate your teeth against temperatures extremes and potentially painful chemicals. Thus the erosion of enamel can result in the exposure of the inner dentin which causes great pain and sensitivity.
The most common cause of dental erosion is due to poor dietary habits, such as smoking and eating and drinking food and beverages that are high in sugar and starches. Some examples are tea, coffee, carbonated drinks, fruit juices and so on. These contain acids (phosphoric and citric) that attack the tooth enamel and cause it to wear away. A number of other things can cause dental erosions, such as dry mouth, acid reflux disease, medications, para-functional habits such as grinding and bruxism, and so on.
It is therefore, recommended that you visit your dentist regularly for a general checkup as well as cleaning and polishing to remove surface stains and to ensure that your teeth remain healthy.

The symptoms and indications of dental erosion can defer, depending on the stage that it has developed to. Some indicators include:

  • Teeth may become darkened – the inner portion of your teeth (dentin) under the enamel is exposed, making your teeth seem more yellow.

  • Tooth sensitivity – sensitivity to temperature extremes (hot and cold), and to sugary foods and drinks. In the later stages of dental erosion, sensitivity can get so bad that it may cause severe and extreme pain.

  • Cracks or chips in teeth – the edges of your teeth may start to appear rough and jagged as the enamel starts to wear away.

  • Transparency – the edges of your front teeth my start to look ‘transparent’.

  • Cupping or indentations – you may start to notice indentations or depressions on the front surfaces of your teeth.

  • Cavities or tooth decay – as enamel starts to erode, your teeth become more prone to bacteria and diseases, and thus increasing the risk of cavities or tooth decay.​

Although dental erosions do not always have to be treated, it is possible that the problem may get worse. Therefore it is always important to know your options and protect your enamel. With regular check-ups your dentist at the Teeth and Skin​ Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital, will be able to spot the early signs of dental erosion and give you advice about how to prevent it from progressing to a more serious problem. However, if you notice any of the symptoms of dental erosion, such as discoloration or even tooth decay, visit your dentist so that they may examine and advise you about proper treatment options.
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here ​(hyperlink) are some tips to help get you started.
If you visit your dentist with complains about any of the symptoms of a dental problem, such as sensitivity and discoloration, your dentist may suspect you are suffering from dental erosion. Your dentist will question you more about your symptoms, about your dental history and about your general health history. Your dentist will then conduct a physical examination, which includes probing your teeth with dental instruments, and will then determine the problem and extent of the issue. They may also ask to see X-rays in order to assess any amount of cavities or tooth decay that you may have. Accordingly, your dentist will then be able to suggest a course of treatment.

There are a number of treatment options available, depending on the severity of the issue:

  • Over-the-counter treatments – If you are only just starting to experience dental erosion, your dentist might suggest fluoride toothpastes, mouth rinses, or other easily available solutions to help prevent the dental erosion from getting worse.

  • Fluoride treatments – If you suffer from regular cavities, a professional fluoride treatment may help to restore your tooth’s enamel.  Fluoride treatments may come in the form of gel, liquid, form or a varnish and they contain more fluoride than over-the-counter toothpaste and rinses.  

  • Filling – if your teeth need some restoration, often your dentist will suggest getting a filling bonded to the surface of your teeth.  

  • Dental Cap or Crown – Your dentist might suggest a dental crown, which is a custom-fitted covering (made of gold, porcelain, resin or other materials), that replaces your tooth’s natural crown.

  • Veneers – In more serious cases your dentist might suggest dental veneers, which are a thin shell of tooth-coloured resin composite material or porcelain that covers the entirety of the tooth with a thicker section. This option can be suggested when the front tooth has been badly decayed or damaged, as it can make it look natural and healthy again.

  • Occlusal splints- to prevent further loss of tooth substance, your dentist might prescribe you to wear an occlusal splint. It’s also known as mouth guard or night guard.​

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.​​

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.