Do You Have Dental “Potholes”?

The term “potholed road” is familiar to everyone, but have you heard about potholed teeth? “Dental pothole” is an informal term given to a small depression or worn-off tip in your tooth enamel. These tiny perforations can become sensitive to the touch and temperature, and are more prone to tooth decay. Over the years, dental potholes will slowly enlarge, growing broader and deeper.

What causes potholes in your teeth?

Highly acidic beverages, including fruit juices made from lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, tomato or cranberry, can slowly break down enamel and soften teeth, making them more susceptible to pitting and damage. In addition, sodas, sugar-laden sports drinks, wine and beer can also take their toll when consumption levels are high. One of the easiest ways to prevent this problem is to rinse your mouth with water, or a mixture of water and baking soda, to help neutralize and bring up the pH level.

The beverages that you drink can seriously weaken enamel over time, but other activities and habits can also break or chip the enamel, causing dental potholes. Even though enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, it is no match for bruxism, or persistent tooth grinding or clenching. Some people grind their teeth unconsciously while they snooze, and others do so reflexively throughout the day while working, driving or concentrating on other tasks.

Bruxism affects millions of American adults and can be triggered by stress, certain medications, as well as improper tooth alignment. Unfortunately, teeth that have already been “softened” by repeated exposure to acids will suffer accelerated damage on biting surfaces when grinding or clenching occurs. Symptoms of bruxism include unexplained headaches, sore jaw muscles, increased tooth sensitivity, sleep disruptions, and teeth that are flattened, chipped or have small holes.

Other culprits that can make matters worse are hard-bristle tooth brushes (dentists always recommend soft bristles) and the use of abrasive whitening toothpastes.

Restore your smile

Dental potholes are easier and less costly to repair if they are detected early. Whether caused by misdirected forces on the teeth, chemical erosion from acids, or attrition (teeth grinding), treatments may include composite fillings, crowns, dental bonding, a custom night guard appliance, or improving the patient’s bite to enhance overall functionality.

Some of the first signs of tooth erosion and dental potholes include sensitivity, yellowing or discoloration on the enamel surface, cracks along the tooth edges and the beginnings of tiny pits along the chewing surfaces. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, don’t delay in calling Long Island Implant & Cosmetic Dentistry to schedule a free consultation. Dr. Elliot and Dr. Nick take pride in offering patients throughout Suffolk County and beyond the latest advances in cosmetic and restorative dentistry.

You can reach our Rocky Point, NY office by calling (631) 296-0602. 

Additional “Dental Pothole and Tooth Erosion” Resources: 

  1. WebMD, What Wears Down Your Teeth http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/wear-down-teeth#1
  2. Colgate Oral Care Center, Can Tooth Enamel Be Restored? http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/life-stages/adult-oral-care/article/can-tooth-enamel-be-restored-0915
  3. Mayo Clinic, Bruxism http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bruxism/home/ovc-20317503

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Ava Lawson

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