What is Pitting in Dentistry?

Dental pitting refers to the localized loss of enamel on teeth. While enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it is not impervious to wear and tear from daily use. Diets high in sugary and acidic foods as well as improper daily hygiene can lead to pitting. If pits are left untreated for too long and the affecting behaviors not addressed, pitting can result in more serious tooth decay.

How Do Pits Form?

Pits and fissures initially form as a result of:

* Attrition: tooth-to-tooth friction which is the natural result of chewing or bruxism (clenching/grinding of the jaw, often unconsciously or during sleep)

* Abrasion: physical wearing of the teeth as a result of brushing with too much force and biting/chewing on hard food or objects

* Corrosion: the erosion caused when acids chemically react with tooth enamel, often as a result of diet, acid reflux, or other medical complications

Once the pits have formed, they become ideal for harboring the bacteria in the mouth that makes up plaque. Food gets stuck in the pits and grooves and develops a bacterial film that will spread unless cleaned regularly. The bacteria feed on the bits of food left behind after eating, processing sugars and starches into acid, which in turn corrodes the teeth. Furthermore, the pits make brushing less effective as the bristles have a harder time coming into contact with the uneven surface. Once the enamel is damaged, tooth decay will set in and cavities will develop.

Preventing Pitting

The best way to prevent enamel from pitting is to maintain a proper daily hygiene regimen. Brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste and flossing at least once every day will go a long way to keeping your enamel and whole mouth healthy.

Regular visits to your dentist for check-ups and professional cleanings will help to keep plaque in check and help to monitor the condition of your enamel. Any pitting that has been detected can be watched and potentially treated to prevent further decay.

In some cases, your dentist may recommend placing sealants over your molars and premolars in order to protect the enamel on your teeth. Sealants are usually made up of special resin coverings that are painted onto the surface and then cured with ultraviolet light. They are beneficial because they both fill and smooth out the surface imperfections and prevent bacteria from infiltrating deeper into the tooth. Sealants can prevent the damage done to teeth from corrosion and attrition but are vulnerable to abrasion and bruxism.

How To Fix Pitted Teeth