Although dental decay continues to be the most common dental problem, acid wear on teeth is a growing concern for adults and children alike.
Most importantly once the dental enamel is lost through acid erosion, it is lost permanently as it cannot reform, compromising your teeth for the rest of your life.
In addition, as the acid softens and dissolves the enamel it makes the teeth more vulnerable to tooth brushing wear and tear and the effects of grinding will be accelerated.
Acid erosion is a process which occurs when acid comes in contact with the teeth for either a prolonged period or with frequency or both. This acid can come from a variety of sources. A common source of erosive acid is from stomach acid in the form of gastrointestinal reflux or frequent vomiting. This can affect both adults and children, but can often go unnoticed, particularly in children who are unlikely to recognise or express the symptoms.
Food and drinks can also be a cause of acid erosion on teeth and can include, juice, soft drinks, sports drinks, acidic fruits, pickled foods, salad dressings, etc.
The total volume of acid consumed is not the only factor involved. The amount of saliva in your mouth, the frequency of the acid exposure, whether the acid is held in the mouth or swished around the mouth, other medical conditions, and the general pre-existing condition of the teeth.
Prevention and early management of erosive tooth wear is an important part of modern dentistry. Understanding the problem and being aware of the warning signs is important.
What Can Be Done About It?
Talk to your dentist if you are concerned about your risk and they can tailor treatment to your circumstances and help you to avoid future problems.
- Depending on the cause, your dentist may refer you to a medical practitioner.
- For dietary related erosion your dentist may recommend changes to your diet or in the way you consume particular foods or drinks.
- Your dentist may recommend a high fluoride tooth paste or fluoride rinse or Tooth Mousse to help.
Other Things You Can Do
- It is important NOT to brush teeth immediately after reflux or vomiting has occurred, as tooth brushing can remove some of the softened enamel. Instead use a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to swish around the mouth and spit and do not rinse.
- Brush your teeth twice a day using a soft toothbrush with a low abrasive fluoride toothpaste. Gel toothpastes are often less abrasive than pastes. Ask your dentist to demonstrate the correct method of brushing to reduce wear.
- Drink water mostly and restrict soft drinks, cordials and juice and then only at meal times. Do not swish or hold acidic drinks in the mouth.
- Drink plain milk. Milk can be held in the mouth for a short time to neutralise acids.
- Use a straw where possible.
- Do not consume foods and drinks directly before bed.
- Chew sugar free chewing gum to stimulate saliva