Dental Erosion

Dental Erosion – Irreversible Loss Of Tooth Structure

Dental Erosion is the irreversible loss of tooth structure as a result of the dissolution of tooth mineral by acid (outside the acid produced by bacteria). Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body but it is no match for today’s high sugar, high acid, heavily processed and easy consumable diet.

The frequency of acid exposure is the most important thing... how long are your teeth in an acidic state? Quite simply, when you drink a fizzy drink or fruit juice or when acids enter the mouth, it takes TIME for saliva to balance the pH back to a neutral level to ensure the teeth are protected and happy. If you are drinking several acidic drinks or eating several acidic foods a day in and around your three meals a day; an imbalance occurs where saliva is just unable to keep up! So, teeth start to dissolve!

Dental erosion can change the appearance of teeth, weaken teeth and also cause sensitivity which can be very uncomfortable and costly to remedy. 

Acid Erosion of Enamel 

How can you protect your teeth from dental erosion?

1. Drink plenty of tap water.

  • Fluoridated water is best to help teeth maintain strength and resistance to further acid wear
  • Good quality saliva depends on being well hydrated
  • Drinking water will limit your desire for an acidic beverage for refreshment (they tend not to be very refreshing or thirst quenching anyhow with high levels of sugar and sometimes sodium

2. Use a good fluoride toothpaste (they aren’t all created equal so ask your dental professional which suits you best) TWICE DAILY.

3. Use a soft or extra soft toothbrush, the flexible bristles actually clean more effectively than medium or hard while reducing wear on an already compromised tooth surface.

4. After meals or snacks/treats, chew sugar-free gum or a couple of nuts like almonds or cashews to neutralise the pH; sugar-free gum stimulates saliva production and nuts are alkaline!

5. Limit your consumption (more so the frequency of consumption) of acidic foods and beverages. Drinking a glass of orange juice in a couple of minutes at breakfast time is okay. Sipping on juice at your office desk over the course of an hour or two will greatly increase erosion, especially if this is something you do most days.

6. Be aware of sneaky acids in your diet or lifestyle; things like mineral water or soda water have a low/acidic pH because of the carbonation (the bubbles!). “Healthy” lifestyle choices can also create a problem... lemon in your water bottle or sipping on apple cider vinegar each morning. Salad dressings and vinaigrette also contribute to an acid attack. All these exposures have a compounding effect.

7. Aim to drink acidic drinks through a straw where possible.

8. Have your tummy issues investigated, gastric reflux sends stomach acids into the mouth and affects the teeth.

9. Visit your dentist routinely for lifestyle and dietary advice specific to YOU. Things like medications, dry mouth syndrome, smoking are just a few more things contributing to the issue of Dental Erosion by affecting saliva and the pH of your mouth making your teeth even less resistant to dietary acids. Your dentist can help coach you to make better choices that are more teeth friendly - it doesn’t always mean giving up the things you love, but maybe just how frequently you are loving them! 

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