Erosion is the loss of tooth enamel caused by acid attack. Enamel is the hard, protective coating of the tooth, which protects the sensitive dentine underneath. When the enamel is worn away, the dentine underneath is exposed, which may lead to pain and sensitivity and teeth can gradually appear shorter as they wear.
Acid attack comes either from acids in food and drink or from stomach acid regurgitated during reflux which may present with symptoms of heartburn. Typical drinks with high acid content include fizzy drinks and sparkling water, fruits and fruit juices, wine, vinegar etc.
Tips to help avoid dental erosion:
- Reduce amount of acidic food and drink consumed. Keep acidic products and fizzy drinks to mealtimes to reduce the number of acid attacks on your teeth.
- Chew sugar free gum after eating. This will help produce more saliva to help neutralise the acids which form in your mouth after eating.
- Wait for at least one hour after eating or drinking anything acidic or reflux before brushing your teeth. This gives your teeth time to build up their mineral content again. Simply rinsing with water or fluoride mouthwash (Fluorigard) will reduce acid level in the mouth.
- To avoid reflux, avoid eating late at night, especially fatty foods or alcohol. Contact your GP to investigate symptoms if reflux/heartburn is a regular occurrence.