What is the difference between dental erosion and dental decay?

Different dental issues can wear down your teeth, and some are more serious than others. Erosion and decay are just a few of the conditions that can compromise your pearly whites.

In the minds of patients, these two problems can easily be confused with each other. However, they have distinct causes and symptoms. When the best dentists are able to identify the main problem with your teeth, it’s easier to develop an effective treatment plan. That’s why it’s important to know whether your issue is erosion or decay.

You may be thinking “What is tooth erosion, anyway.” Erosion is the wearing away of enamel, the hard outermost layer of the tooth. Although enamel may seem to be very sturdy, it can be weakened by certain items in our diet. For example, sodas and acidic foods (think citrus) can wreak havoc on the teeth.

Substances found in the saliva would ordinarily have a protective quality, preventing erosion, but acids can render those substances inert. Fortunately, the effects of erosion may not be permanent. You may be able to address the problem by limiting consumption of the foods that eat away at the enamel and rinsing the mouth to remove any residue after you enjoy them.

Tooth decay, on the other hand, is a different phenomenon entirely. Decay arises when the bacteria ordinarily found in the mouth attack the teeth, eating away at the entire tooth. If decay continues to progress, the tooth may ultimately be lost. Once decay begins, its effects cannot be reversed, and this is why it’s essential to have decay treated as early as possible, to minimize the loss of biological tooth material.

If you’ve noticed possible signs of decay or erosion, such as sensitivity or pain, a change in the tooth’s shape, or discoloration, you should schedule an examination to determine which is at fault and get appropriate treatment. In the long run, both conditions can do damage to your teeth, and it’s important to address them quickly. Contact our dental team serving Richardson to schedule your consultation today.