Do you have traits that put you at risk of tooth erosion?
- Do you swish soda around in your mouth?
- Is snacking a constant pastime?
- Do you have a passion for fruit juices?
- Do you suffer from gastric reflux?
These can increase your chances of tooth erosion, also called acid erosion, which occurs when the enamel on your teeth is etched by acids.
Cosmetic dentist Dennis G. Sternberg in Freehold has seen many cases where simple habits lead to the need for tooth erosion treatment. Erosion needs to be treated because, unfortunately, tooth enamel cannot repair itself. If an eroded tooth is left untreated, the tooth is susceptible to decay, which leads to complications and more extensive restoration work, from simple fillings to dental crowns.
Enamel, which covers your teeth down to the gums, is a critical component in protecting your teeth. One of the hardest tissues in the human body, enamel protects teeth from daily wear and tear such as chewing and biting. Enamel also insulates teeth from potentially painful temperatures and chemicals.
But one thing tooth enamel cannot withstand is being constantly awash in acids.
Causes of Erosion
Erosion can be caused by the foods you eat, poor hygiene habits, and medical conditions. Typical causes include:
- Soft Drinks and Fruit Juices. Both can have high acid levels, which is a problem if they are consumed excessively.
- Constant Snacking. The bacteria in plaque can change foods that are high in sugar and starches into acids.
- Dry Mouth. Saliva protects your teeth by neutralizing or washing away acids.
- Medicine. Some medications and vitamins are high in acid.
- Acid reflux. This condition can force stomach acids into the mouth and damage teeth. Vomiting also puts stomach acids in the mouth, so conditions such as bulimia and alcoholism can increase tooth erosion.
- Grinding. Bruxism abrades tooth enamel on the edges of your teeth.
Steps You Can Take
Brushing your teeth, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly are important steps that protect your teeth from acid erosion. But you can also be proactive and adopt some simple healthy habits:
- Cut out or reduce acidic foods or drinks. Avoid carbonated soda and citrus juices. Do not swish acidic drinks around in your mouth. After eating acidic foods, take a moment to rinse your mouth with clear water.
- Use a straw. This keeps acidic drinks away from your teeth.
- Curb snacking. Your mouth remains acidic for a few hours after eating foods high in sugar or starches. After you snack, rinse your mouth with water.
- Chew sugar-free gum. Chewing gum improves saliva production and protects your teeth. Choose a gum with xylitol, which is a natural sugar alcohol proven to help prevent cavities.
- Wait to brush. Wait at least an hour after consuming acidic foods before brushing your teeth. Acids soften tooth enamel, making it more susceptible to damage from brushing.
Prevention is, of course, the best option. But if your tooth enamel has been damaged there are steps you can take to protect your teeth. Treatment will depend on the extent of enamel loss, but options include:
- Dental bonding
- Porcelain veneers
- Dental crowns
Early symptoms of tooth erosion are not always obvious. If you are concerned, please call for an appointment.