Did you know that chewing exerts a force of 70 lbs per square inch on your molars? In addition to that fact, a 2006 Q & A article in the New York Times also noted that people who grind or clench their teeth can exert 6-10 times the amount of chewing force. That’s 420-700 lbs per square inch worth of force! With so much force being exerted on your teeth on a daily basis, you may wonder how you even still have teeth at all.
Luckily, tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body and can withstand large amounts of force. Although durable, however, enamel is by no means indestructible. In fact, tooth enamel does wear down over time as a result of chewing forces. For those with bruxism, enamel tends to wear down at a much faster rate because of the large amount of force regularly exerted on the teeth.
When your tooth enamel wears down, this is known as enamel erosion. Unfortunately as your enamel erodes, this protective layer of your teeth gets thinner and thinner, making it easier for tooth decay to develop. Thin enamel has also been associated with tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet. Not only that, but your teeth may also start to look yellow as the enamel thins and allows the dentin to show.
Once enamel has been worn down or damaged, it cannot be replaced. However, teeth with enamel erosion can be restored with cosmetic dental treatments that alleviate tooth sensitivity, while protecting the tooth and whitening its color. Here are some of the best cosmetic dental treatments for enamel erosion:
Cosmetic bonding, also called dental bonding or composite bonding, is a cosmetic dental technique that bonds composite resin to worn tooth enamel in order to add a protective and aesthetic layer. Composite resin is a versatile dental material that bonds directly to enamel and is customizable in terms of both the color and shape of the tooth. This means two things: first, most of your natural tooth structure will be preserved. Second, the composite resin will be shaped according to the surrounding tooth structure so that it will blend and have a natural appearance. As far as color is concerned, you have the option of matching it to your existing tooth color or going for a lighter shade to make your teeth appear whiter. Some dentists even use a cosmetic bonding technique to fabricate composite veneers. Cosmetic bonding can be completed in a single dental appointment and the results usually last about 5-7 years.
Porcelain veneers are thin shells that are adhered onto the front side of visible teeth in order to add a protective layer, while also brightening the color of your teeth. In addition to improving the color of your teeth, veneers are also commonly used to improve the size, shape, and spacing of the teeth. The main differences between cosmetic bonding and porcelain veneers are that veneers are fabricated by a dental laboratory and each treatment uses different dental materials. Since veneers are fabricated outside of the mouth, they must be adhered to the tooth using dental cement. In order to ensure that the veneers fit properly without looking bulky or affecting the overall bite, your dentist may need to remove a small layer of tooth enamel before placing the veneers. Additionally, veneers are fabricated from porcelain, which is more durable than composite resin and lasts about 10-15 years.
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap designed to fit over the entire visible portion of the tooth. When it comes to restoring teeth with eroded enamel, however, most dentists will only recommend placing a dental crown if a significant portion of the natural tooth structure is worn, damaged, and/or decayed. This is because dental crowns require that the natural tooth structure be significantly reduced in size for the crown to fit properly. Like veneers, dental crowns are also fabricated in a dental laboratory and then cemented in place. Crowns can be made out of porcelain, as well as various other dental materials. Depending on the exact material used to fabricate the crown, you can expect it to last about 10-15 years.