Dental erosion is the loss of tooth enamel and other tooth structure from frequent exposure to strong acids. The most common causes are:
- acidic drinks and foods
- some medicines
- stomach acid that regurgitates into the mouth
The loss of enamel may be slight to virtually total. In severe cases, the teeth can be dissolved down to the gum line.
Dental erosion has become more frequent particularly amongst children, teenagers and young adults.
Dental erosion and tooth decay are not the same. Tooth decay (caries) occurs when bacteria in the mouth turn sugar into acid which can cause damage to the tooth. Poor hygiene and frequent consumption of sugar are the cause of tooth decay.
Common acid sources and risk factors
The first step in treatment is to avoid, limit or manage the exposure to acids
- frequent intake of acidic food and drinks such as carbonated soft drinks (both regular and sugar-free), sports drinks, energy drinks, red and white wines, fruit juices and cordials, citrus fruits, fruit jams, vinegar based foods such as pickled vegetables and some salad dressings
- acidic medications such as a chewable vitamin C tablet, some cough syrups, and some antiseptic mouth washes
- some medications taken for long term treatments such as asthma drugs
- dry mouth, which can be caused by various factors, including smoking, medical treatments (such as some blood pressure and mood – altering drugs and chemotherapy) or medical conditions including Sjogrens syndrome
- medications that increase gastric reflux such as some anti-inflammation drugs, including aspirin and asthma medications
- conditions that cause chronic regurgitation, vomiting or reflux, such as morning sickness, bulimia, hiatus hernia or peptic ulcer
- frequent exposure to poorly balanced, highly chlorinated water in swimming pools
- chronic dehydration that can occur, for example, in athletes who train heavily and often consume acidic drinks such as sports drinks
Severely eroded teeth may need to have a root canal treatment or extraction. Vent erosion of teeth.
- Immediately after consuming acidic food or drink, rinse your mouth with water, milk or a recommended mouthwash (typically a fluoride mouthwash)
- Drink more tap water throughout the day, especially between meals
- Avoid or at least restrict your intake of acidic foods and drinks. Limit acidic drinks to mealtime.
- Drink plan (not flavoured or sweetened) milk instead of acidic drinks
- Drink acidic drinks through a straw. Place the straw tip well behind your front teeth at about mid tongue
- Delay tooth brushing for at least 30 minutes after acidic exposure to allow saliva to help stabilise the tooth enamel
- Brush teeth at least twice daily using a soft toothbrush and a non abrasive toothpaste.
- Chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva production
- Swallow vitamin C tablets whole with water instead of chewing
Of course, a visit to your dentist twice a year will help keep your oral health in check. If you would like to book an appointment call 9333 6854
The aim of this blog is to provide general information and does not contain all known facts about dental erosion.