What is Dental Erosion?
Dental erosion is the irreversible loss of outer dental hard tissue (enamel) by a chemical process that is not caused by bacteria.
In the UK, it’s a serious problem that is thought to affect around 10-20% of the population, while in the US the figure could be as high as 30% among middle school students aged 10-14 years.
These stats are shocking for two of the world’s health-conscious developed nations.
So what’s the cause?
Dentists like to divide the causes of dental erosion into two types: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic sources of dental erosion are foods, medication and environmental acids such as those found in fizzy drinks, cordial, fruit juice and citric fruit.
Perhaps surprisingly, intrinsic sources of tooth erosion come from the body itself, with the main culprit being the gastric acid used to break down and digest food.
Gastric acids, with pH levels less than 1, are highly corrosive tooth enamel if we’re ever unlucky enough to experience having this in our mouth. The most common reasons for doing so is vomiting, and that’s one reason why sufferers of anorexia or bulimia tend to suffer the worst erosion.
For the rest of us, managing dental erosion is a simple matter of taking a few common-sense steps to avoid the worst acidic culprits in excess.
- Don’t eat citrus fruits more than twice daily
- Avoid drinking more than sports drink per week
- Limit drinking soft drinks to four times a week
- Avoid vinegar and other acidic foods
- Stay hydrated
It’s easy to miss the early stages of dental erosion, so regular visits to the dentist are crucial too as early preventative measures can put a stop to even worse problems down the line.