It’s fairly common to find one or more teeth with exposed dentin during a patient’s dental exam. The protective covering of the tooth, known as enamel, will be partially missing. Without the enamel, the dentin is missing its natural protection, and is prone to decay in patients with poor brushing habits, or frequent dry mouth. People with normal saliva who brush properly are at less of a risk from having exposed dentin.
Over time, the exposed dentin will be subject to chemical erosion from various fluids as well as mechanical abrasion from brushing the teeth. This is a slow process, and generally doesn’t require urgent repair of the dentin. However, this can eventually cause the surrounding enamel to erode away over time.
During an exam, areas of the teeth that show exposed dentin will be noted, and shallow composite restorations may be recommended to protect the affected teeth from further erosion.
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