If you see any craters or indentations on your teeth surfaces, you could be experiencing tooth cupping (usually molars). Tooth cupping is often a sure sign of bruxism (teeth grinding) and/or acid erosion. Either way, to preserve your teeth and prevent further damage, you’ll have to make some adjustments to your daily routine.
With molar cupping, you might notice changes in how your teeth bite together. Your dental fillings might also feel like they’ve become loose. To repair the affected teeth’s structural damage, you can undergo restorative dental procedures. But you’ll first need to figure out what the cause of your tooth cupping is.
What causes tooth cupping? The most likely cause of your cupping is acid erosion. This occurs when you regularly consume a high acidity diet. Anything below a 5.5 pH level could cause your tooth enamel to erode. Another contributing factor is how long you allow the substance to remain on your teeth.
What are the Signs of Tooth Erosion?
Several things could occur when you have tooth erosion, including:
Your teeth can become discolored due to the enamel wearing away and the dentin being exposed.
Your front teeth edges might look transparent.
You may experience tooth sensitivity on both your inner and outer teeth surfaces, typically due to the dentin layer that your enamel covers, becoming exposed.
You may have pain in your teeth due to tooth enamel erosion.
You’ll want to contact your dentist and set up an appointment if you notice any of these teeth changes.
What Causes Enamel Erosion?
Enamel erosion occurs when you have excess acid wearing away at your enamel — the outer, hard layer that provides your teeth their structure. Generally, the natural-occurring calcium in saliva helps to neutralize food acids as you eat, protecting you from enamel erosion.
However, when you consume a lot of foods or beverages high in acid, this saliva calcium might not be able to keep up. Carbonated beverages (even diet soda) and pure fruit juice are highly acidic; therefore, when you drink large amounts of beverages like these, you could be increasing your tooth erosion risk.
Outer teeth layer damage can come from:
Fruit beverages (some fruit drink acids can be more erosive than battery acid)
Excessive carbonated soda consumption (high levels of citric and phosphoric acids)
Acid reflux disease (GERD)
Low salivary flow (xerostomia) or dry mouth
Genetics (inherited conditions)
Diet (high in starches and sugar)
Medications (antihistamines, aspirin)
Environmental Causes of Enamel Erosion
Environmental factors (wear and tear, friction, corrosion, stress) can erode your enamel.
More clinical terms dentists use to describe medications like these are:
Abrasion is physical wear and tear of the surface of your teeth that occurs with improper flossing, brushing too hard, chewing tobacco or biting on hard objects like bottle caps, fingernails or pens.
Attrition is natural tooth-to-tooth friction occurring when you grind or clench your teeth like with bruxism which usually happens during sleep involuntarily.
Abfraction occurs from tooth stress fractures like cracks from bending or flexing of the tooth.
Corrosion is a chemical occurrence when tooth surfaces have acidic content on such as with certain medicines like vitamin C tablets or aspirin, GERD, highly acidic foods and frequent vomiting from alcoholism or bulimia.
Enamel Erosion Preventions
Just like with bone, once enamel is gone, you can’t retrieve its lost portion. Since your body can’t make new enamel, you should work hard to repair and strengthen the enamel you have left.
You can repair weakened tooth enamel as long as the damage hasn’t caused your enamel to disappear altogether. But, it’s through prevention that will give you the higher chances of maintaining healthy tooth enamel.
A good first start is using toothpaste made specially to strengthen enamel. You’ll also want to change certain behaviors, like grinding your teeth, that are damaging your teeth.
Applying Remineralization Through Fluoride and Calcium
You can do this through a “remineralization” process. By using fluoride and calcium-containing products, you can target the weak spots of your enamel and strengthen existing enamel before it starts to wear away. It’s also possible to fortify spots where enamel has already started to erode.
Fluoride acts like a protective ingredient, serving as a barrier between the beverages and foods you consume and your enamel. It helps keep your enamel strong despite your diet’s more abrasive items. If you already have damage, you’ll want to use toothpastes containing minerals that help put the calcium back into your teeth enamel’s weak spots.
By using these types of toothpastes, you’ll be essentially patching up erosion areas, stopping it from causing even further damage or worse, removing your enamel entirely.
Addressing Teeth Grinding
If you have a problem with bruxism, your dentist may be able to make a mouth guard for you that you can wear at night while sleeping to buffer teeth grinding and avoid enamel erosion.
Drink through a straw if you can’t or don’t want to stay away from juice and soda. A straw will keep the liquid from touching your teeth. If you must indulge in acidic or sweet treats, while eating them, try sipping on water to wash the particles away that will cling to your teeth.
Dental Tooth Cupping Treatment Options
Your dentist can perform numerous restorative treatments for tooth cupping, depending on how severe it is. They may recommend a composite filling, onlay, inlay or dental crown for restoring your damaged tooth. It’s important you address the underlying habit or behavior to avoid future cupping. If you don’t receive treatment for your tooth cupping, it could result in jaw/bite discomfort, painful sensitivity and even tooth loss if you allow the damage to become severe.
Set up an initial consultation with your dentist if you suspect tooth cupping. They’ll give you a complete dental exam and provide you with an official diagnosis. They’ll then go over your treatment options with you and provide you with instructions on how you can restore a better smile and prevent future tooth cupping.