02 Feb Erosion and Tooth Wear
A new thing that can be heard when our dental team are looking after your mouth is “We’ll do a Bee-Wee (BEWE)”.
No , not a bizarre new dance craze- but a new way of formally recording the degree of wear ,erosion and attrition present on people’s teeth. Many dental patients are now aware of their “BPE” score – an assessment that codes the health(or otherwise) of their gums. The new (from 2010) Basic Erosive Wear Examination (BEWE) is designed to offer a similar ”snapshot” view of the erosive/wear state of the teeth.
The commonest cause of these effects on teeth is the drinking of acidic drinks. Some of these are obviously acidic e.g. orange juice. Less obvious are other fruit juices, often present in smoothies, such as Cranberry juice-which is highly acidic. There are , of course healthy benefits to fruit consumption but concentrated fruit sugars and acids and the way that they are consumed can cause unhealthy dental effects.
In particular the acidity from fruit juice (or fizzy drinks) can soften the outer layer of teeth and make them wear more when used for chewing AND if brushed immediately afterwards!
Tooth enamel takes 30 minutes to recover normal dental strength after having an acidic drink.
Erosion can also be caused by acid reflux.
The BEWE index is simple and, as with the BPE the mouth is divided into 6 sectors:- each on is given a score determined by the most affected tooth in that sector. The scores are:
0=no erosive wear
1= early signs of erosive wear, but no dentine(the ivory tooth core) exposed
2= Dentine exposed, but less than50% of tooth surface area
3=Dentine exposed greater than 50% of tooth surface area
The numbers from the 6 sectors are added up to give an overall score, which can be used as a tool to help assess risk of problems from erosive tooth wear. The dental team will need to interpret the score in context and in discussion with the patient.
0-2 = none
3-8 = Low
8-13 = Medium
Sensible ways to eat healthy and keep teeth healthy are:
- Try to keep acidic drinks and food to meal times- drink plain water at other times
- Combine acidic foods/drinks with alkali ones(which cancels the acid)e.g. chewing nuts/eating natural unsweetened yoghurt or finishing eating/drinking by chewing a small piece of cheese- this is an alkali food that smears over the teeth and will neutralise acid in the mouth while the tooth enamel recovers.
Now that IS a cheesy story!