Dental erosion is the loss or wear of dental hard tissue by acids not caused by bacteria. Here are a few factors that can cause dental erosion:
- Erosion may be caused by intrinsic (e.g., excessive vomiting or acid reflux) and/or extrinsic (e.g., diet) factors.
- Soft drinks, particularly carbonated sodas and sports drinks, appear to be the most significant extrinsic cause of erosion.
Since dental erosion is irreversible, the focus needs to be on prevention and reduction as well as management.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind to help prevent erosion:
- It has been found that milk and yogurt products can help protect your enamel from erosion due to the calcium and phosphate content.
- It is also important to avoid acidic beverages if at all possible, if you must have them it is best to drink them with a straw and place the straw behind the front teeth closer to the palate.
- Drink water, or preferably milk, while eating or rinse your mouth after meals or consuming acidic drinks
- After vomiting, rinse your mouth with milk or water
- Saliva helps buffer and remove acids. To promote saliva, chewing gum may help to produce more saliva
- Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages or vomiting. You need to wait at least one hour to brush your teeth to ensure acid has been removed from your mouth or you take the risk of brushing the acid on the enamel.
Before I mentioned that there are Intrinsic and Extrinsic factors for erosion. Intrinsic erosion is caused from the introduction of gastric acids into the mouth at a frequency that exceeds the ability to produce enough saliva to prevent the erosion. Extrinsic erosion is caused by things that we can modify such as our lifestyle and diet. Here are a few examples that fall into each category.
- Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- Chronic alcoholism
- Industrial and Occupational Risks
What should I watch for?
Early signs of dental erosion can be seen at the start of shallow pits on your teeth or a flattening of your back teeth. As you lose enamel on your teeth, the dentin is exposed and will change how your teeth look and can even cause tooth pain. Your front teeth may appear shorter and start to look yellow if you have erosion and your teeth may become sensitive to temperature changes from hot to cold. Here are a few pictures that show tooth erosion:
Article by: Tami Grigg
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