What is erosion?
Enamel is the hard coating of the teeth. If this gets worn away it is called tooth enamel erosion or dental erosion.
What causes tooth enamel erosion?
Acid attacks the enamel on the teeth and is the main cause of dental erosion. Saliva in the mouth works hard to get rid of acid from the oral cavity to protect the teeth. However, due to factors including too much acidic food and drink, and problems with tooth brushing, over time the saliva’s repair work cannot cope, and slowly little bits of enamel are eroded away.
To begin with teeth may look more stained, but further exposure of the dentine beneath the enamel makes the teeth more sensitive and painful when exposed to hot, cold or acidic food and drink. Enamel becomes very thin, translucent, and fragile, teeth can appear grey/yellow, and enamel can start chipping away.
Main causes of tooth enamel erosion
- Acidic/fizzy/carbonated drinks, acidic foods and fruit, energy drinks and effervescent vitamins.
- Bulimia – an eating disorder where someone makes themselves sick after eating that introduces stomach acids into the mouth.
- Gastro oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) and other reflux problems – where stomach acids come up into the mouth.
- Pregnancy morning sickness.
- Conditions affecting the flow of saliva in the mouth, such as dry mouth.
- Medications, including aspirin, and vitamin C and iron products.
Foods to Avoid
Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, pineapples and similarly common fruit items are as acidic as they are healthy, which is why it’s important to consume them with water to ensure they don’t harm your enamel.
However, these products aren’t the only foods out there known for their low pH level. Others include pickles, cranberries, tomato products, some herbal teas, which contain fruit extracts and lemon and alcohol, including beer, wine, cider and carbonated wines.