Dental erosion is the loss of the tooth enamel due to eating acidic foods, consuming tart beverages, or acids coming up from your stomach. These acids can dissolve the surface of your teeth, leading to loss of enamel. The tooth enamel is the hard outer surface 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 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 and lose some of its mineral content. When this happens, your saliva will act to slowly remove the acid, restore the enamel, and bring your mouth to its natural balance. If acid attacks occur frequently, 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 increase the acid imbalance in your mouth.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux – This is when the acids from the stomach come up into the mouth and lead to enamel erosion.
Bulimia – An eating disorder where a person deliberately vomit in order to lose weight. The high level of acids in the vomit can cause damage to tooth enamel.
Hiatus hernia – People with hiatus hernia can suffer from dental erosion due to vomiting, generally from drinking too much alcohol.
Foods and Beverages
Many foods and beverages we consume are acidic. Food and drinks with a high pH, lower than 5.5 can have a high erosive potential. Some common foods and drinks that contain high levels of acid, include:
- Soft drinks
- Energy drinks
- Fruit juice
- Vitamin waters
- Salad dressings
- Carbonated drinks
Preventing dental erosion
Dental erosion can be prevented by limiting your acid intake. Some tips include:
- Reducing the amount of acidic food and drinks.
- Using a straw to drink. The straw forces the beverage to the back of the mouth, minimizing contact with the teeth and can help prevent erosion.
- Eating meals with milk and cheese. They help neutralize the acid in your mouth.
- Chewing sugar-free gum after meals stimulates saliva flow to help neutralize the acids.
- Brush your teeth after each meal.
- Seek medical treatment for bulimia, acid reflux and hiatus hernia
- Rinsing your mouth with water or a fluoride mouth rinse
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, a dental filling may be needed to stop the pain. When the damage is more severe, a dental crown or veneer 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.
Sedation and Implant Dentistry of Tehachapi offers advanced dentistry in a relaxed, caring atmosphere. We provide gentle friendly care and offer you convenient appointments that respect your time. To schedule an appointment call our our Irvine dental office at (661) 822-3727 or book an appointment online.