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Understanding the Difference Between Demineralization and Tooth Erosion

While both dental demineralization and erosion happen as a result of an acidic environment in the mouth, there are some key differences. The three main differences are the source of the acid that’s causing the damage, the location where the damage is happening, and the reversibility of the damage.

Source of acid damage to the tooth
Certain bacteria in the mouth feed on carbohydrates that are stuck to teeth and release lactic acid as a byproduct. This acid demineralizes the tooth and weakens its structure resulting in a cavity. This is in contrast to erosion that happens as a result of acid from other sources, such as soda, fruit juice, or acid reflux.

Location of the damage
A cavity forms when bacteria on the tooth release acid beneath the tooth surface, weakening the structure, causing the enamel to collapse due to lack of support. On the other hand, erosion happens when the enamel on the surface gets weakened by acid and worn away by abrasion from something moving across the weakened surface of the tooth, even if it’s just the tongue.

Reversibility of the damage
The initial stage of demineralization can be reversed. Fluoride treatment not only remineralizes the teeth, but also makes them less susceptible to acid than they were before. Erosion, on the other hand, is irreversible and can lead to exposed dentin – the less hard layer underneath the enamel.

It is critical to avoid soda and fruit juices to ensure that your mouth doesn’t get too dry. If you are feeling any signs of demineralization, such as sensitivity in the teeth, don’t hesitate to make an appointment to address these concerns.