Most people know tooth enamel to be the strongest material in our bodies, but it is still susceptible to acid erosion. Erosion happens when the enamel (the protective, outer layer) begins to wear away. This exposes the dentin (softer, inner layer of teeth.) Basically, the enamel “thins away.” Once this erosion occurs, the softer part of the tooth is no longer covered. Acids & bacteria will cause damage quicker and you will be at a higher risk for cavities and infections.
Beverages such as sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, and coffee can damage our tooth enamel. The acidity of these beverages can be harmful to tooth enamel, especially if consumed frequently during the day.
GERD, or acid reflux, is a condition in which stomach acid leaks into the throat & mouth. Sometimes this is noticeable by symptoms of heart burn, chronic throat irritation, stomach irritation, or bad taste in mouth. However, in some cases, acid reflux can go unnoticed. Dental checkups can help screen for signs of non -symptomatic acid reflux. If untreated, GERD can cause damage to teeth & throat quickly. A person may be a higher risk for esophageal cancer, cavities, and wear of teeth.
Bulimia, an eating disorder, can contribute to acid erosion of teeth. Purging food after eating will expose the throat, mouth, & teeth to stomach acid as well. The acid exposure will wear or thin the enamel over time. This may be noticed by sensitive teeth or visual & x ray exams at dental checkups.
Dry mouth can increase risk of acid erosion on teeth too. Saliva helps to naturally cleanse our teeth & neutralize the mouth from acid attacks. Dry
mouth is a common side effect of medications and other health conditions. A person should discuss these symptoms with their dentist, hygienist &
There are products that can help relieve dry mouth & protect the teeth.
How can you tell if your teeth look eroded? Your teeth may look shiny or transparent. There could be pits on the chewing surfaces. They may also change shape or size. Along the gumline, there may be “notches”, areas where you could get a fingernail between your tooth & gum. These areas may really sensitive to touch or to temperature changes.
If you suspect acid erosion or are concerned about potential, there is good news! Seeing your dentist regularly can help treat already existing erosion as well as prevent it from worsening. Your dentist or hygienist will ask questions to help determine what could be causing wear on your teeth, and then discuss treatment options and preventative suggestions. Treatment may include fillings, crowns, or mouth guards. Special tooth pastes & fluoride recommendations may be recommended. Diet and nutrition awareness will be discussed as well. Being aware of acid erosion in early stages will prevent excessive wear & expensive dental treatment, so make an appointment with your dentist today!