Erosion of the tooth enamel is one of the many causes of tooth pain. Tooth erosion occurs when excess acid wears away the tooth enamel, which is the hard outer layer that gives teeth their structure. In general, the calcium that occurs naturally in saliva will help neutralize the acid in the foods you eat and protect your tooth enamel from erosion. But if you consume a lot of highly acidic foods or drinks, the calcium in your saliva may not be able to keep up. Pure fruit juice and any type of carbonated drink (even diet soda) are highly acidic, so if you drink large amounts of these beverages, you may be increasing your risk for tooth erosion.
Symptoms of tooth erosion include the following:
- Tooth Pain: If your enamel is wearing away, your teeth may be more sensitive to hot and cold food.
- Discoloration: Your teeth may appear more yellow because more of the dentin (the layer under the enamel) is exposed.
- Transparency: Your front teeth make look transparent near the edges where you bite.
- Cracks and Cups: If the tooth enamel starts to erode, your teeth may develop cracks and small dents along the chewing surface.
You can reduce your risk for tooth enamel erosion by keeping acidic foods to a minimum. If you drink carbonated drinks or fruit juice, use a straw to minimize the drink’s contact with your teeth or drink them with meals. Chewing sugar-free gum helps by encouraging your mouth to produce more saliva to help the teeth recover from exposure to excess acid.