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What Enamel Erosion Looks Like

Teeth with enamel erosion look more yellow due to the loss of the enamel layer, thus revealing the yellower dentin layer underneath. This yellowing may appear anywhere along the tooth often presenting as small circular pits or large patches. The larger the affected surface area, the more severe the condition is.


How enamel erosion can look:


Where enamel erosion can occur:


 

Small yellow pitting

The early stages of enamel erosion often appear as small yellow pits on the tooth surface. As the condition progresses in severity, these pits will grow larger and look more yellow.


Very small eroded yellow pits on chewing surface
Very small eroded yellow pits on chewing surface

Larger eroded enamel pits becoming more yellow
Larger eroded enamel pits becoming more yellow

Essentially the size enlarges and color deepens/darkens as the condition worsens. These signs can be easily visualized through the change of its appearance.


 

Large yellow patches

Untreated eroded enamel will transform from small yellow pits to large yellow patches. Yes, it literally looks like a large patch of yellow on your tooth.


Large yellow patch of eroded enamel near gum line
Large yellow patch of eroded enamel near gum line

Clearly you can see that the appearance worsens when left untreated. Below is an image showing that it can occur on the chewing surface as well.


Large yellow patch of eroded enamel on chewing surface
Large yellow patch of eroded enamel on chewing surface

Even to the untrained eye you should be able to tell the color difference of the acid erosion on the enamel. It simply looks more yellow than the surrounding tooth structure!


 

Eroded chewing surface

Teeth can experience acid erosion anywhere on the enamel but most commonly it appears on the chewing surface.


Acid eroded enamel on chewing surface of tooth
Acid eroded enamel on chewing surface of tooth

Typically when this does occur, it will start off as small circular pitting which can progress to large patches encompassing the entire occlusal table.


We find this most commonly on our patients who consume a lot of hot sauce. So if you're a pepper head, you may want to reduce hot sauce intake or remember to drink a full glass or two of water after your meal. That certainly helps to dilute and wash the acid off of the enamel and prevent further damage.


 

Eroded cheek/tongue surfaces

Erosion of the enamel can also occur on the cheek facing side or tongue facing side. Depending on the location, the etiology may be different.


Below is an image of lingual (tongue) sided erosion of the enamel. If we see this, it could be an indication of vomiting, acid reflux or even bulimia.


lingual enamel erosion of mandibular anterior teeth
lingual enamel erosion of mandibular anterior teeth

Facial (cheek) facing eroded surfaces may be an indication of drinking acidic beverages or a habit of biting into limes/lemons.


Once again, it would be prudent to drink 1-2 glasses of water after these acidic events to minimize the potential damage!


 

What to do

Unfortunately once the enamel has been eroded away regardless of what caused it, it will not grow back. This means that you should seek out professional dental treatment in order to restore the lost enamel.


Our dentists in Long Island City provide composite bonding, dental veneers, and crowns to help you replace your eroded enamel. Schedule a consultation with us (718-358-3307) or with a dentist near you to discuss treatment options!

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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