What Is Dental Erosion?
Dental erosion (acid erosion) is a common problem in today’s society. It occurs when the outer tooth structure comes in contact with acid. The acid starts to soften and wear away the tooth’s enamel. The acid could be from what we eat and drink, or from acids originating in our stomach. Similarly, health conditions such as bulimia or those with acid reflux or GERD are at risk of dental erosion.
On the pH scale measuring acidity, the optimal pH for the oral environment is 7, or neutral. Each time we eat or drink something acidic, the pH in our mouth drops. This drop results in our teeth starting to demineralize or soften. After our meals, our saliva brings our pH back to neutral so our teeth remineralize and harden again.
Signs Of Dental Erosion
Enamel starts to thin, and the edges of teeth might become translucent and prone to breaking and chipping. As the enamel thins, the darker inner layer of the teeth starts to show through, leading to a yellow appearance.
Dental sensitivity causes discomfort when having cold foods or drinks. Similarly, sweets and acidic foods may also cause pain.
Teeth may have a chalky appearance due to demineralization.
What Kinds Of Food And Drinks Are Acidic?
Pop and energy drinks are very acidic and should be avoided as much as possible.
Sports drinks are acidic and sugary and are only needed in times of extreme, excessive sweating. Otherwise, water is the best choice.
Lemon juice, salad dressings, and wine.
Citrus fruits, bananas, apples and fruit juices.
Coffee and tea.
Sugars and carbohydrates are processed by the bacteria in our mouths and turned into acid. This means that our mouths become acidic environments after almost every meal and snack.
How To Lower Your Risk Of Dental Erosion:
DO NOT BRUSH YOUR TEETH DIRECTLY AFTER HAVING SOMETHING ACIDIC. You should wait 30 minutes before brushing. This gives your mouth time to return to a neutral pH. Otherwise, you could accelerate the erosion by brushing while your enamel is still softened.
Do not sip on acidic drinks for long periods throughout the day. Do not hold or swish acidic drinks in your mouth. If pop and other acidic drinks cannot be avoided, try to drink them with a straw to minimize contact with the teeth.
Rinse your mouth out with water after acidic drinks, meals, and snacks; this helps to get rid of some of the acids.
Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production; this helps to quickly neutralize acids. Gum containing Xylitol is a good choice.
Try not to snack frequently as this keeps your mouth in the acidic state longer.
Choose water or milk as your drink between meals.
Use toothpaste and mouthrinses containing fluoride and other minerals. They will help to remineralize the teeth and protect them against acids.
Seek treatment for any health conditions that could be contributing to dental erosion.
Speak to your dental professional about preventing and treating dental erosion. Seeking dental treatment right away will help minimize the damage to your teeth.