What Causes Tooth Erosion?

citrus-teethDental erosion is the irreversible loss of tooth structure due to acids (rather than bacteria). Over time, acids can wear away at the enamel of the teeth and expose the dentine underneath.

In addition to a darker, yellowish appearance, tooth erosion can cause teeth to become more sensitive to cold or certain foods and drinks.

What Causes Tooth Erosion?
Erosion can be caused by intrinsic or extrinsic factors. Certain foods, drinks or even genetics can play a role.

External Causes
Foods and drinks with high acidity contents are the biggest culprits. Drinks with a pH value lower than 5.5, or a diet high in sugar and starches cause the most damage. These often include drinks perceived as “healthy.” Common examples include:

  • Sports Drinks
  • Fruit Juices (particularly citrus such as orange or lemon)
  • Diet sodas
  • Coffee
  • Wine
  • Certain fruits (cherries, citrus, etc.)

Because the above examples have a high acidity, after you consume them your enamel temporarily loses some of its mineral content. Normally your saliva cancels this out, but if the acidic consumption is frequent there isn’t enough time to rebuild and small bits of enamel are brushed away.

Intrinsic Causes
In addition to diet, environmental or intrinsic factors can play a role in tooth erosion such as:

  • GERD (gastro-oesophageal reflux); acid from the stomach comes into the mouth
  • Dry Mouth (xerostomia)
  • Bulimia
  • Habits such as teeth grinding, brushing too hard, biting fingernails
  • Genetics/inherited conditions

What Can You Do to Prevent Erosion?
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent tooth erosion. Some of these include:

  • Reduce the amount of acidic foods and drinks in your diet
  • Sip through a straw
  • Chew sugar-free gum after eating
  • Wait at least an hour after eating before brushing (gives teeth time to re-build mineral content)
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste
  • Also, keep in mind that frequency plays an even greater role than total amount. For example, it’s better for your teeth to consume an entire sports drink at once rather than sip on it throughout the day
  • Schedule regular dental visits

If you would like more information about oral health please visit www.parkedentistry.com.

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