Be Aware of Tooth Wear

Be Aware of Tooth Wear

Imagine keeping a beautiful healthy smile for life? A definite asset and something we should all aim for.

Healthy teeth not only enhance appearance but also keep us enjoying the great pleasures of life including happy social times and of course, a wide variety of delicious nutritious foods.

Most of us are familiar with the disease commonly called tooth decay. A disease that can be prevented with good daily tooth brushing habits, limiting sugary and sticky carbohydrate foods especially between meals and a routine dental check up.

There is another problem, however that is not as well recognised but can be just as damaging. This condition is called tooth wear or dental erosion, and if not controlled or prevented, can cause irreparable harm to dental health.

Here is what you should be aware of so that risks can be recognised and damage prevented.

What is tooth wear or dental erosion?

A condition that results in irreversible loss of tooth enamel, affecting the appearance and strength of teeth.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Teeth may become sensitive, look more transparent, may chip more easily, become shorter in length and darker in colour.

What causes it?

Frequent contact of acid on teeth

Where does acid come from?

From certain foods and beverages. Most fruit is naturally acidic but the majority of acids we eat are those added to processed foods and drinks.

These include:

    • All soft drinks (regular and sugar-free/”Diet” varieties), cordials, juices, wine and fruit flavoured teas
    • Vinegar, lemon, salad dressings and pickles
    • “Sour” and fruit flavoured confectionary

What makes tooth wear happen more quickly?

A dry mouth or lack of saliva can accelerate tooth wear. Saliva can be reduced by certain medical conditions, many medications and also dehydration during physical activity.

Be aware and prevent tooth wear

    • Become familiar with foods and drinks that increase risk.
    • Avoid tooth brushing straight after consuming acidic food or drink. The enamel is softer and will erode more quickly.
    • Rinse or drink water after acidic products.
    • Combine protective foods like dairy (milk and cheese), protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, tofu), vegetables and nuts with acidic products.
    • Use a straw for juice or soft drink.
    • Chew sugar free gum to increase saliva. Saliva helps to neutralize acidity.
    • Drink water during sports and physical activity.
    • Be extra aware of tooth wear if you have a dry mouth.
    • Read labels to become familiar with food acids. Sometimes the acid is not listed and you may only see a number.

Most common food acids and their associated numbers are:

  • Acetic acid E260
  • Ascorbic acid E300
  • Lactic acid E270
  • Malic acid E296
  • Fumaric acid E297
  • Citric acid E330
  • Tartaric acid E334
  • Phosphoric acid E338
  • Succinic acid E363

Finally, it is important also to be aware that acid from inside the body can damage teeth. This can occur when stomach acid enters the mouth frequently over time. If you suffer from reflux or indigestion or experience frequent vomiting episodes, follow the preventive tips, avoid tooth brushing straight after an acidic experience and seek further advice from your dentist and doctor.

As featured on Balance by Deborah Hutton.