Acid wear and how it affects your teeth

Erosion is the loss of natural tooth structure due to the acid present in your mouth, this may be due to diet, reflux or regular or prolonged vomiting. This loss of tooth structure often leads to a very smooth and shiny tooth surface. Erosion can do enough damage that it is able to wear through to the next layer (the dentine) of the tooth often appearing as yellow depressions in the tooth. More severe wear can lead to tooth sensitivity to stimuli such as hot/cold or sweet food and drink.

It is generally understood that a pH level in the mouth any lower than that of 5.5 is able to begin dissolving/softening the enamel surface of a tooth. The critical point at which this happens however varies from person to person depending on the contents, quantity and quality of the saliva.

Dental erosion can often worsen the damage done due to clenching and grinding (attrition) and mechanical wear such as with a toothbrush (abrasion) as the integrity of the tooth surface is already softened or compromised.

Ways to minimise damage to the teeth due to erosion include:

  • Rinsing with water after eating or drinking acidic foods or drinks.
  • Not brushing immediately after eating or waking (times where there is high acid in the mouth).
  • The use of a fluoridated toothpaste to strengthen the enamel surface of the tooth.
  • A tooth mousse regiment to remineralise the tooth surface.
  • Reducing exposure to acidic foods and drinks.
  • Ask your doctor’s advice for treatment of reflux or vomiting.
  • Keep hydrated, this helps to provide the mouth enough saliva to buffer out and wash away some of the acid in the mouth
  • Use a soft toothbrush.
  • Avoid using more abrasive toothpastes such as charcoal toothpaste.
  • If there is evidence of clenching and grinding talk to your dentist about a grinding splint.

When left unchecked dental erosion can lead to significant damage that may require extensive reconstructions to be undertaken in order to give the teeth good appearance and function.