monthly tooth talk - November 2013

Tooth Erosion - submitted by Kristy Kaser

Acid erosion, also known as tooth erosion or dental erosion occurs when tooth enamel is worn away by acids found in every day foods such as fruit, vegetables, soda and wine. The acid softens tooth enamel, and during regular brushing, the softened enamel can be worn away more easily and become thinner over time. Acid erosion damages your enamel and gradually changes the shape, texture and appearance of your teeth.

The cause of tooth erosion is mainly due to excessive consumption of highly acidic foods and beverages. The phosphoric and citric acid found in many of these foods and beverages lowers the pH balance of the mouth, eventually causing tooth erosion. Some of the most common beverages causing tooth erosion are soft drinks, sports drinks, and now one of the more popular drinks of choice for teenagers, energy drinks. Excessive amounts of juice can also contribute to tooth erosion. Another cause of tooth erosion on front teeth is the eating disorder bulimia, due vomiting and the stomach acid coming into contact with the back sides of the upper front teeth. Even excessive consumption of highly acidic fruits can cause tooth erosion.

The biggest problem with tooth erosion is the sensitivity that eventually comes along with this issue. Dental caries are easy to treat and eliminate but the damage caused from erosion causes sensitivity which is much more difficult to cure. Tooth sensitivity becomes a life-long problem, limiting what we choose to eat and drink in the future. Not only do patients experience this sensitivity but they also notice differences in the shape and color of the teeth. What many people are unaware of is the tooth erosion and sensitivity is irreversible.

Professional judgment is dependent on the treatment for each individual patient and there condition. The patient’s main concerns, severity of sensitivity, and overall needs have to be taken into consideration while treatment planning the condition. Also, each patient’s occlusion, periodontal status, and restorative implications are taken into consideration.

Treatment can start with something as simple as applying a desensitizing agent onto the surface. Some teeth involving the surface close to the gum tissue can be treated with a simple restoration. In some other severe cases involving the chewing surfaces of the teeth, treatment could be as extensive as root canal therapy and crowns. One of the most important treatment options is decreasing the acid intake in the diet and consuming more water than sugary, acidic beverages and foods or brushing after ingestion of these substances.

In conclusion, Tooth erosion has become a noticeable problem with teenagers and adults that are experiencing unwanted tooth sensitivity, which could have been avoided. Tooth erosion can be prevented with limited use of acidic food and beverages. Athletes should hydrate with water instead of sports drinks. Soda and energy drinks should be limited in the diet if not eliminated. Water is the best source of prevention.


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