The Impact of Acid Erosion on Teeth

In the last few weeks we seem to have seen more people than usual complaining of sensitive teeth, chipped front teeth, short teeth…

In fact around half of all 16-24 year olds ….

and more than three quarters  of all adults have some form of tooth wear.*

The most common cause of these problems is acid erosion. Lots of people have heard that if you drop a coin into a glass of a well -known fizzy drink it turns shiny and bright as the outer layer is all stripped away.  In just the same way, acid dissolves away the outside enamel of the tooth.

The picture above shows tooth wear. The edges of the above teeth are thin and chipped.  The greyness you can see at the edges is translucency, you can see right through these teeth! The white streaks across the teeth are where the enamel has changed nature or demineralised.

An article in the April edition of Dental Update discusses the different ways dentists choose to treat worn teeth. The article states that early wear of the teeth is a preventable disease. The different ways of treatment proposed range from building up the worn out teeth with composite or porcelain to extremely radical interventive treatment options.We would always prefer to prevent the need for any of these options.

So what acids in your food and drink can dissolve teeth?Acid reflux causes erosion, and fizzy drinks are the obvious problem.Unfortunately other, healthy seeming options are just as dangerous for teeth. Lemon juice, orange juice, apple juice, fruit smoothies, all diluting squash including sugar free, cranberry juice, some herb teas  eg lemon and ginger, and wine, are acidic. The more times these drinks are taken or the longer they are in the mouth the worse effect they will have. Not only that but the tooth enamel is softened and stays soft for 30 minutes after an acidic drink. Brushing your teeth straight away will actually remove enamel.

Oh no – what’s left to drink? The good news is if you have an acidic drink with a meal the acid will be neutralised.  A little piece of cheese, some nuts or chewing gum will counteract the acid.

In between meals- water, milk, tea, natural herb tea like camomile or peppermint, and coffee are healthy for teeth.

Fluoride toothpaste strengthens the teeth and can help them remineralise but doesn’t make the enamel grow back- yet.

We hope this has been informative. If you are concerned about wear on your teeth we do have great ways to fix them, so please do not hesitate to ask.

* the 2011 Adult Dental health survey. The 2011 Adult Dental health survey found-52% of 16-24 year olds and 77% of all adults had some form of tooth wear.

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