Dental erosion is the process of enamel loss from your teeth caused by acidic foods. The enamel is the hard protective covering on the teeth and protects the softer dentine underneath. Without a sufficient thickness of enamel to protect teeth, pain and sensitivity may be experienced.
The signs you have dental erosion usually show as hollows in the tooth. Another sign is a general wearing away of the teeth at the points where the teeth meet when biting.
When the dentine under the enamel is exposed, the affect teeth will look more yellow as this is the colour of dentine. Without enamel offering protection, the teeth are more susceptible to sensitivity caused by hot and cold food and drink. This is often noticeable with foods such as ice creams or hot drinks.
Acidic food consumption is the reason why dental erosion occurs. Every time acidic food is consumed, the enamel protective coating is made softer losing some mineral content. This is where saliva comes in. Saliva is your body’s natural way of neutralizing the acidity in the mouth and restores it to a normal, healthier level. How clever is that?!
However, the saliva can’t always cope with the amount of acidity in the mouth, especially if your diet contains lots of highly acidic food, and so enamel particles are lost over time. Eventually, the surface of the teeth is worn away and pain and sensitivity can become a problem.
If you are concerned about dental erosion then discuss it with your dentist. You may want to educate yourself on which foods are the worst offenders in terms of acidity levels. Food items with a pH value of less than 5.5 are more acidic and can lead to dental erosion.
For children especially, it’s worth making a point that fizzy drinks are acidic and shouldn’t be consumed in large quantities. Even diet drinks with low or no sugar are still acidic so it’s a myth that you can avoid tooth erosion by drinking diet fizzy drinks instead.
Fruit juices, both natural and processed are highly acidic. The worst offender here is grapefruit juice, apple juice and orange juice.
The best drinks to switch to instead are water and milk. Milk is especially beneficial as it helps neutralize the acidic levels in the mouth when consuming it.
If you want to prevent teeth erosion then follow the tips below:
Limit your intake of acidic food and drink.
Use a straw to consume acidic drinks so this avoid your teeth coming into contact with the acidic fluid.
At the end of each meal, each some cheese or drink milk as this will help restore a natural balance of acid levels in your mouth.
Chew on some sugar free gum after a meal as this will produce saliva to counter act the acid levels and restore them to a natural balance.
Wait between 60 and 90 minutes after a meal before brushing your teeth. This will allow time for your teeth to build up the mineral balance in the enamel to provide protection once again.
Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste will help against dental erosion.