Enamel Tooth Wear
Enamel Erosion – What’s the Story?
What is Enamel erosion?
Enamel erosion or enamel wearing away issues relate to the irreversible loss of tooth surface, initially the enamel, by acids in what we eat and drink. Even though enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, it can still be lost through repeated exposure to acid from food and drinks or from the stomach, due to sickness. It’s a slow, progressive problem. There is widespread ignorance of the damaging effects of acid erosion since many of the culprits are ‘healthy’ foods.
So, you mean acidic things like lemons can cause the enamel erosion?
Yes, but not just citrus fruits or, for that matter, other obviously acidic things, like vinegar: I’m also talking about fruit juice, squash, fruit teas, wine, dried fruits such as raisins and all types of fizzy drinks, including ones that don’t even contain fruit, like cola.
What are the signs of enamel wearing away?
Sensitivity when eating or drinking hot, cold or sweet things and discolouration. Worryingly, in the early stages, teeth can still look natural and white, giving a false sense of security. Similarly, a translucent edge to the tooth or a really smooth front surface may look cosmetically pleasing, but could indicate the first signs of the enamel thinning.
What about treatment for enamel erosion?
Unfortunately, there is no treatment: once the enamel’s gone, it’s gone for good. By the time patients seek help, it can be too late, making restorations to damaged teeth more difficult and costly. Therefore, preventing or minimizing the impact of acid in the first place is the key. Early detection can make all the difference, so have regular dental check-ups and raise any concerns with your Dentist, who can take models of your teeth to monitor any erosion over time.
What can I do to help protect my teeth from wearing away?
Be more aware of acids in food and drinks and think about cutting back on certain things: instead of having, say, two glasses of fruit juice, have one and then a glass of milk, or instead of two oranges, have one and then a piece of cheese. I’m certainly not suggesting cutting out fruit or juices altogether, as these are important in a healthy diet; just reducing excessive consumption. You could also switch to a toothpaste like Sensodyne Pronamel® which can help to re-harden enamel.
Any other tips to stop the enamel erosion wearing away my teeth?
To lessen the impact of acidic drinks on teeth: 1) Dilute drinks like fruit juices, especially for children; 2) Use a straw or drinking bottle with built-in straw to reduce direct contact with teeth; 3) Drink a glass of milk or water immediately after, to help counteract the acid.
Can’t I just clean my teeth straight after?
No! That’s just about the worst thing you can do because the enamel will have been softened, meaning you could be doing more harm than good. Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
Any final advice?
Find a Dentist you can trust and go for regular check-ups so problems can be sorted early on.
“ANGER IS AN ACID THAT CAN DO MORE HARM TO THE VESSEL IN WHICH IT IS STORED THAN TO ANYTHING ON WHICH IT IS POURED.” MARK TWAIN