The surface of your teeth is protected by a coating of enamel. While strong, enamel isn't indestructible. Substances like acids and bacteria can erode it away. However, it can be hard to see enamel damage, especially in its early stages. You can lose some of it without it being obvious when you look at your teeth. Later, this damage becomes more noticeable.
What are the signs that you might have erosion problems?
1. Sensitivity Twinges
In the early stages of erosion, you may get the occasional twinge when you eat or drink certain things. For example, sweet food and drink may make a tooth feel suddenly painful for a moment. This feeling then subsides. Very hot or cold things may have the same effect.
While decay can also make your teeth sensitive, you often see signs of decay on a tooth. For example, the tooth may have discoloured spots on it, and it may be painful more often than not. You can't necessarily see any damage with enamel sensitivity; you just feel it.
2. Changes in Tooth Appearance
When enamel erodes, it exposes the underneath of the tooth. While enamel is white, the inside of the tooth is more yellow. So, if you're losing enamel, the first visible sign you may notice is that your teeth look a little less shiny and white than they did. They look a little dull.
If the erosion gets worse, then the underlying dentin will show through. Your teeth may start to look less white and more yellow as more enamel erodes and the dentin is exposed.
3. Tooth Damage
Left unchecked, enamel erosion is likely to ultimately damage teeth. The loss of this protective layer opens up more of the tooth, so a tooth may start to weaken. This often affects the edges of the teeth first, which may start to look more uneven than they did. Teeth can't withstand everyday use without a sufficient enamel layer, and they may start to break or crack in places.
If you think you have any of these problems, then see your dentist. They can work out if erosion is the issue. If it is, they may be able to help you stop the problem from getting worse — this may involve some lifestyle changes like cutting out acidic foods and drinks. While your dentist can't put the enamel back, they can also help treat the problem.