Acid erosion can cause permanent damage to the teeth and can be quite painful. Acids of varying concentration and strength can bring harm to the teeth. The hard tissues of the teeth can erode when they are frequently exposed to acids, so part of the tooth can wear away to expose deeper layers of the teeth. Tooth erosion can make the teeth sensitive, causing discomfort and pain when eating.
What Is Tooth Erosion?
Since enamel is the outermost covering of a tooth, it is affected the most by acid erosion of teeth. Enamel is a translucent hard tissue that does not have cells. Therefore, when it wears away, cracks or chips, it cannot regenerate to repair itself. The layer of enamel on the teeth function as a kind of barrier to protect the teeth, and when it has been damaged, the teeth lose their protection.
Enamel can be damaged through various ways including:
- Bacteria in the mouth which can lead to a cavity forming
- Enamel can wear away or abrade due to continued force from night grinding or an incorrect brushing technique
- It can chip or fracture as a result of a physical blow or a bad oral habit, such as chewing on a pen
- The teeth being exposed to high acid concentrations.
What Are The Causes Of Tooth Erosion?
The enamel erodes when it is exposed to an acidic environment for long periods of time. As a result, the layer of enamel is lost, so the inner layers of the teeth become exposed. It is important for you to understand what causes the enamel to erode, so you can prevent it from happening. Some of the causes of tooth erosion include:
- Frequent consumption of fruit drinks. Did you know that the acids in fruit juices are more erosive than battery acid? In small amounts, fruit juice is relatively harmless, but that is no longer the case when you consume them regularly, such as with every meal.
- High consumption of soft drinks. Soft drinks or carbonated drinks have very high levels of citric and phosphoric acids. When consumed quite regularly or excessively, soft drinks can lead to tooth erosion.
- Gastrointestinal problems. Acid reflux can cause the enamel tissue to erode. Frequent vomiting, acid reflux and various other gastrointestinal problems will bring high levels of acid into the mouth, causing the tooth structure to wear away. The constant vomiting of people with bulimia can also cause tooth erosion.
- Medications. There are also some medications that may cause the teeth to erode. Examples of these are aspirins and antihistamines.
- Xerostomia. This is also known as dry mouth syndrome. A person with xerostomia suffers from dry mouth or a low salivary flow. This condition increases acid content in the mouth, causing the tooth structure to erode.
- High-acid diet. Your diet can also bring about tooth erosion. When you consume foods which are high in sugar or starch, you expose your teeth to more harmful agents that will cause the surfaces of the teeth to erode.
What Is The Treatment For Acid Erosion Of The Teeth?
It is quite easy to tell if a tooth has been eroded. Tooth sensitivity is the most obvious sign. With the outer enamel damaged, the inner layers become exposed, increasing the tooth’s sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures. It can also be identified due to the presence of cracks and chips on the teeth. It can also be identified by the formation of cavities and cuppings, which are indentations on the surface of the teeth. Depending on the damage, tooth sensitivity may be quite excruciating, so treating tooth erosion with the following techniques will be helpful:
- Reduce intake of acidic food and drink. If your condition has been brought about by high consumption of acidic food and drinks, reducing your intake will be very effective. Stay away from too much carbonated drinks, and citrus fruits and drinks. If you cannot avoid these drinks, make sure to rinse your mouth with water after consumption or try drinking them through a straw to minimize their contact with your teeth.
- Chew sugar-free gum. Low salivary flow increases the acidic concentration in the mouth. By chewing sugar-free gum in between meals you are able to boost salivary flow and prevent the creation of a more acidic environment in your mouth.
- Reduce snacking. Do you know that after you eat, your mouth becomes acidic for a few hours as the food is broken down? Frequent snacking exposes your teeth to higher concentrations of acid. Reducing snacking means your teeth are not exposed to acid so many times throughout the day.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride strengthens teeth and makes them less susceptible to erosion. Apart from acquiring fluoride through topical applications in the dental office, you can also obtain healthy levels of fluoride through using a fluoride toothpaste.
- Drink more water. Water naturally protects your teeth from erosion. When you make it a point to consume more water every day, you give your teeth and mouth more protection and you reduce dry mouth. Depending where you live, the water may also contain fluoride.
- Teeth restorations. If the effects of tooth erosion are severe, a dentist may recommend covering up the eroded areas with fillings, crowns or veneers.
Normally, saliva provides enough protection to the teeth. Saliva coats the teeth with protective calcium and minerals; it cleanses food particles that may cling to the teeth; and it is strong enough to dilute erosive agents that may bring the teeth harm. Calcium-rich saliva can offer enough protection that will maintain the health of the teeth and the mouth. But when excessive amounts of acids are present in the mouth, the natural efforts of the salivary gland may no longer be sufficient.