What to know about tooth erosion

Tooth erosion can spell an end to the hardest tissue in your body — tooth enamel — if you don’t take the proper precautions to thwart the effects of acidity.
Enamel, the semi-clear covering of the tooth, may be the hardest tissue in the body, but it’s not impervious to wear, as visits to the dentist sadly confirm.

Increasingly patients, even young ones, are coming to the dentist’s chair with signs of acid wear, making teeth sensitive to temperatures and prone to decay — never a good thing.

Other signs of wear include rough or uneven edges on teeth, yellowing, cupping or dents where you bite or chew, and smooth, shining surfaces, which indicate mineral loss.
Causes of tooth wear
We all know that tooth problems can arise by eating too many sweets and not brushing properly, but erosion can also be caused by:

  • Drinking too many soft drinks or fruit drinks (all very acidic)
  • Consuming too much wine or vinegar-based salad dressing
  • Many types of snack foods
  • All-day grazing on veggies and fruits
  • Dry mouth (saliva helps prevent tooth decay)
  • Drugs or supplements that have a lot of acid, such as aspirin or vitamin C
  • Genetics

Protecting your teeth
Since acid is a big culprit when it comes to tooth wear, it only makes sense that you should cut back on acidic food and drinks. For kids especially, be aware that sports drinks contain large amounts of citric acid and caffeine, which reduces the protective effect of saliva.

Other steps you could take to protect your tooth enamel include:

  • Rinsing your mouth with water, perhaps infused with a dash of baking soda, after consuming acidic foods
  • Drinking water regularly throughout the day to keep mouth moist with saliva
  • Finishing a meal with a glass of milk or cheese to cancel out acids
  • Avoiding grazing through the day. And if you do snack, try ones that are low in acidity and can counteract it, such as nuts and dairy foods
  • Using a straw when drinking pop or juice to limit the liquid’s contact with teeth
  • Not brushing too vigorously and wearing down the enamel
  • Waiting at least an hour to brush after you’ve had acidic foods or drinks. They soften the enamel, making it prone to toothbrush damage
  • Using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash

Checkups and repairs
And of course, regular visits to your dentist for routine cleaning, polishing and checkups can help ensure that your teeth stay healthy and stain free.

If you have lost tooth enamel, don’t despair. There are a variety of ways to repair it. Tooth bonding, for example, can protect a damaged tooth or cover teeth that are worn, chipped or discoloured. If a lot of the enamel is gone, the dentist might suggest covering the tooth with a crown.

What to know about tooth erosion
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