Tooth erosion is probably not something you think about very much. After all we expect our teeth to be with us through out our life. But if we’re not careful, they can erode. And severe erosion can lead to some painful problems.
What do we mean by tooth erosion?
It is the wearing away of tooth enamel by acid. The enamel is the hard calcified tissue that covers and protects the outside of the tooth. It is the hardest substance in our bodies.
But acidic foods can and do attack the enamel and erode it. And that can lead to everything from mild tooth discoloration and mild sensitivity to more severe dental problems, such as indentions in the teeth, severe tooth sensitivity, and even cracked teeth.
So what can we do to prevent tooth erosion?
- After eating or drinking acidic foods or beverages, rinse your mouth with water so that the acid will be neutralized.
- Wait at least an hour before brushing your teeth after consuming acidic foods or beverages to allow the teeth to remineralize after the acid exposure.
- Cut back on carbonated drinks and try replacing them with water, milk or un-sweetened coffee and tea.
- Use a straw when drinking carbonated beverages or other sweet drinks, such as natural fruit juices, which are very acidic. A straw enables the liquid to go quickly to the back of your mouth instead of washing over the teeth.
- Swallow acidic liquids quickly instead of swishing them around or holding them in your mouth.
- Chewing sugar-free gum can help reduce dry mouth and increase the saliva flow, allowing for your teeth to remineralize.
- Always use a soft toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride can help to reduce tooth sensitivity.
Here’s the good news. The saliva in our mouth contains calcium which helps to strengthen and remineralize the teeth, however, remineralization can not occur when a great deal of acid is present. So you want to do what is necessary to neutralize the acid so your saliva can do its work and remineralize your teeth.
If you have questions or concerns about your teeth and erosion, please get ahold of us. We can help you determine if erosion is happening and discuss various ways (and products) to prevent further erosion.