Avoiding Tooth Erosion


If you think that sweets and soft drinks are the only threats to your teeth, you need to know that there are other foods and beverages that can cause cavities—and more. One common problem for many people is what is known as tooth “erosion.” In the dental sense, erosion means that the outer layer of the tooth, the enamel, has been worn down over time by a chemical process. In this case, the chemical process results from the by-products of certain food and drink. It goes without saying that erosion is bad for your teeth, but it can present a host of various symptoms and potential problems.

How Erosion Can Affect Your Teeth

Erosion most commonly affects the enamel since it is the outer layer of the tooth. Once the enamel has been lost, it does not regenerate. Some of the ways that this process can further affect your teeth are:

-Sensitivity to hot, cold, and occasionally sugar
-A yellowing of the teeth that results from the inner dentin being exposed, which naturally has a darker shade than enamel
-Discoloration of tooth-colored fillings
-Increased risk of developing cavities
-Tooth infections requiring root canal treatment
-Loss of teeth, in advanced cases

Treatment for tooth erosion depends on the tooth and the severity of the erosion. For instance, front teeth which have lost enamel from their front surfaces are often candidates for veneers. Veneers can protect the teeth and restore the proper shape and form to the damaged tooth. Conversely, back teeth may need crowns to keep their strength; without enamel, teeth become much weaker.

Common Food and Drink That Can Cause Erosion

The types of foods and beverages that cause erosion generally have one thing in common: acidity. An acidic environment in the mouth encourages the breakdown of tooth enamel. The body attempts to keep the mouth at a neutral pH with a healthy salivary flow, but sometimes our diets can overwhelm this process, resulting in a constant state of acidity. Some of the biggest culprits include:
-Soft drinks
-Lemon juice/lemonade (citrus juices in general)
-Sports drinks
-Flavored waters

How to Prevent Erosion

Aside from avoiding erosion-causing beverages, there are steps you can take to protect your teeth.
Don’t sip on acidic drinks all day. Drink them as quickly as possible.
When finished, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.

Wait an hour before brushing your teeth after consuming acidic beverages. The breakdown process has already started and the brushing action may hasten erosion. Your saliva needs time to neutralize the acid.

By being aware of your diet and following these tips, you can help avoid the pitfalls of tooth erosion.
Still have questions for your Eagan family dentist? Call Northwood Dental today at (651) 687-0789.

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