Erosion of teeth
Tooth wear is the irreversible loss of tooth structure which impairs tooth function, appears unsightly and may also be painful.
There are three types of tooth wear: abrasion, attrition and erosion. They can often occur together which means that repairing tooth structure requires complex treatment.
Physical wear of the teeth caused by something other than tooth to tooth contact eg. overzealous or inappropriate toothbrushing, use of sharp objects to clean teeth.
Loss of tooth structure as a result of tooth to tooth contact such as teeth grinding.
Dissolving of tooth enamel due to the presence of acids in the mouth.
Signs of tooth erosion
Teeth affected by erosion will look yellower due to the darker tissue showing through thinning tooth enamel and appear glazed, smooth, or shorter as a result of tooth surfaces being worn away. Fillings will sit higher than the surrounding tooth surface and chewing surfaces may develop smooth concave craters that increase sensitivity.
Cause of tooth erosion
Acid attacks are responsible for tooth erosion and occur after consumption of drinks and food with acids and high sugar content. Examples include sports or energy drinks, fruit juices, soft drinks and alcohol. Low pH drinks and foods cause tooth wear and should be avoided or only consumed in small amounts at mealtimes.
Other factors that contribute to erosion are dry mouth and contact of stomach acids with teeth (due to morning sickness, gastric reflux or bulimia).
How to minimise the risk of dental erosion
Drink water frequently and reduce sugary drinks.
Eat a well balanced diet and limit snacking
Use a straw if drinking juices and soft drinks
Do not brush straight after high sugar foods or drinks as you can damage tooth enamel
Eat foods (dairy products ) that can help neutralise saliva pH
Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow to wash acids away