Dental erosion is the loss of the tooth enamel caused by an acid attack. Enamel is the hard outer surface of the tooth that protects the sensitive dentine underneath. Erosion of the enamel can lead to exposure of the dentine, which may lead to pain and sensitivity especially with cold food and drinks.
Erosion generally appears as hollows on the top surface of the molar teeth. They can become smaller as the enamel erodes away. As the dentine becomes exposed, the teeth may appear dark yellow in color and sensitivity to hot, cold or acidic foods and beverages may become noticeable.
Causes of dental erosion
Acidic foods and beverages can cause the enamel on your teeth to become softer, as the enamel will lose some of its mineral content. Your saliva will act to slowly remove the acid, repair the enamel, and restore your mouth to its natural balance. If acid attacks frequently occur, then there is not enough time for the balance and repair to take place. Over time the surface of the enamel will wear away.
Some medical conditions can add to the acid imbalance in your mouth and lead to erosion.
Bulimia is a condition where people deliberately vomit in order to lose weight. The high level of acids in the vomit can cause damage to tooth enamel.
Anorexia nervosa is another eating disorder where high levels of gastric acid may be found in the mouth.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux happens when acids from the stomach come up into the mouth and lead to enamel erosion.
Hiatus hernia is caused when people drink too much alcohol. People with hiatus hernia may also suffer from dental erosion due to vomiting.
Prevent dental erosion
Food and Beverages
Food and drinks with a high pH, lower than 5.5 can have a high erosive potential. Reducing these from your diet can help prevent dental erosion.
Fizzy drinks can lead to teeth erosion and should be avoided or minimized.
Fruits and juices
Citrus fruits like lemons, grapefruits and oranges contain natural acids that are harmful to your teeth. Drinks made from packet concentrates are very acidic also. Reducing the amount of these acidic food and drinks is important to prevent dental erosion.
Using a straw forces drinks to the back of the mouth, minimizing contact with the teeth and can help prevent erosion.
Milk and cheese
Finish your meals with cheese or milk drink as this will help to neutralize the acid in your mouth.
Chewing sugar-free gum after meals stimulates saliva flow helps to neutralize the dietary acids.
Brush your teeth
If you eat or drink anything acidic, wait about one hour before brushing your teeth. This gives your mouth time for your saliva to repair the enamel. Brushing straight after acidic foods and drinks may cause even more enamel damage.
How do you treat dental erosion?
Routine dental visits will provide early detection and can prevent further damage. When erosion has caused more damage, and the teeth are sensitive to hot and cold, fillings may be needed to stop the pain. When the damage is more severe, crowns or veneers may be the best solution.
If you think you may have erosion, it is important to identify the cause first and deal with that to prevent further damage. Your dentist can provide you with a personalized treatment plan.
Guru Dentistry of Irvine offers advanced dentistry in a relaxed, caring atmosphere. Our philosophy is to treat you with gentle friendly care and offer you prompt appointments that respect your time. To schedule an appointment call our our Irvine dental office at (714) 557-7744 or book an appointment online.