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Dental erosion has been recognized as a dental health problem only relatively recently. If your diet is high in acidic foods and drinks or sugars, you are at a higher risk of dental erosion. Find out all you should know about this condition

Dental erosion

author icon By Dr. George Ghidrai

Dental erosion or acid erosion is a type of tooth wear. More precisely, erosion is the loss of tooth enamel caused by acid attack.

dental erosion

Besides erosion, other types of tooth wear can be described :

Dental erosion has been recognized as a dental health problem only relatively recently. Many times dental erosion can coexist with abrasion and attrition.

What causes dental erosion ?

Dental erosion is caused by acid attacks that happen too frequently.

  1. Acidic foods and drinks

    The most common cause of erosion is due to acidic foods and drinks. Drinks low in pH levels that cause dental erosion include fruit juices (mainly orange and apple), sports drinks, wine, beer and carbonated drinks (such as colas or lemonades).

    A diet high in sugars can also cause erosion. Frequency rather than total intake of acidic juices or foods is seen as the greater factor in dental erosion.

    Saliva acts as a buffer, regulating the pH when acidic drinks are ingested and protecting the enamel from demineralization (which is the loss of its mineral content).

    However, if acid attacks happen too often, the buffering capability of saliva decreases and the enamel does not have a chance to repair itself. Over time, you start to lose the surface of your teeth.

  2. General conditions

    People with bulimia or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are all at higher risk of dental erosion because the gastric acid from the stomach comes into contact with the teeth.

    For example, bulimia is a condition where patients make themselves sick so that they lose weight. Frequent vomiting erodes tooth enamel and can lead to cavities.

  3. Other causes

    Other causes include :

    • a number of medications such as vitamin C, aspirin or antihistamines
    • dry mouth or low salivary flow (also known as xerostomia), because the buffering capability of saliva is not present to counterbalance the acidic environment
    • genetic or inherited conditions
    • environmental factors such as friction, wear and tear, stress etc.

Signs and symptoms

The signs of enamel erosion can vary, depending on the stage.

What can I do to prevent dental erosion ?

Is there any special treatment for dental erosion ?

Dental erosion does not always need to be treated. Regular checkups with your dentist can prevent the problem from getting any worse.

However, in some cases, the dentin is exposed and it is important to protect the tooth to prevent sensitivity. Sometimes, simply bonding a filling onto the tooth will be enough to repair it. In more severe cases, the dentist may need to fit a veneer or a dental crown.

Last review and update: May 2019


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