Numerous individuals regularly consume carbonated or sugary beverages and acidic foods without realizing that these choices may be detrimental to their teeth, leaving them susceptible to tooth erosion. Tooth erosion is the deterioration of tooth structure caused by the weakening of dental enamel, the strongest substance in the human body. Dr. Sindledecker and Dr. Saltz emphasize that, in many instances, it’s not just what you eat and drink that matters but how you consume them.
What is tooth erosion?
Tooth erosion occurs when the acids present in the foods and beverages you consume, along with other contributing factors discussed later, weaken the enamel on your teeth. Dental enamel, the thin outer layer of hard tissue, maintains the tooth’s structure and shape. Weakened enamel exposes the underlying dentin, resulting in a yellow appearance of the teeth.
What causes tooth erosion?
Several factors contribute to tooth erosion, including:
- Drinking carbonated or fruit drinks: All soft drinks, including diet varieties, contain high acid levels that can dissolve enamel.
- Consuming sour foods or candies: Treats like sour candies, with low pH values, can be acidic and harmful to enamel.
- Low saliva volume: Saliva helps neutralize acids and remove leftover food, but reduced saliva can hinder remineralization.
- Acid reflux disease: Stomach acids from acid reflux or GERD can reach the mouth and erode enamel.
- Bulimia or binge drinking: Frequent exposure to stomach acids can lead to tooth damage.
- Wear and tear: Vigorous brushing or teeth grinding can contribute to enamel erosion.
What are the symptoms of tooth erosion?
Tooth erosion may manifest in the following symptoms:
- Severe sensitivity or tooth pain when consuming hot, cold, or sugary foods or drinks.
- Tooth discoloration.
- Rounded teeth.
- Transparent teeth.
- Visible cracks in teeth.
- Cupping or dents on the biting or chewing surfaces of teeth.
How to prevent tooth erosion:
- Reduce or eliminate carbonated drink consumption; opt for water, milk, or tea.
- If consuming acidic drinks, drink quickly using a straw to minimize contact with teeth.
- Limit acidic food consumption to meal times to reduce exposure.
- Rinse with water after consuming highly acidic food or drinks to neutralize acids.
- Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production, aiding in remineralization.
- Use a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste for brushing.
- Consider daily use of a toothpaste to reduce sensitivity, as recommended by Dr. Sindledecker and Dr. Saltz.
It’s crucial to be aware that dental problems, including tooth erosion, may not become visible or painful until they are advanced. Regular deep cleanings at Sindledecker Dentistry can help address overlooked areas, preventing potential issues from going unnoticed.