Tooth Erosion: The Causes of Acidic Damage and Some Treatment Options

Tooth Erosion: The Causes of Acidic Damage and Some Treatment Options

Acidic tooth erosion refers to cases in which the pH balance in a person's mouth is acidic rather than alkali or balanced. This results in gradual damage to the enamel of the teeth. Slowly over time, the enamel will wear away and reveal the dentin layer of the teeth below. If left untreated, tooth erosion will cause the yellowing of the smile (the dentin layer of the teeth is yellow in color) as well as the weakening of the teeth and increased tooth sensitivity. That's why undergoing effective restorative dentistry procedures as soon as possible is an ideal treatment option.

How is tooth erosion different from tooth decay?

While you may think that tooth erosion and tooth decay are the same, they are actually different matters. Whereas tooth erosion is caused by an acidic oral pH, tooth decay is caused by oral bacteria in the mouth eating food particles and creating a harmful substance known as plaque.

As you can see, these are two separate matters that need to be distinguished from each other given their differing causes.

Substances That Cause Tooth Erosion

Some common substances that lead to increased oral acidity and contribute to tooth erosion include:

  • Soft drinks
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Carbonated liquids
  • Citrus juices
  • Vinegar
  • Gastric fluid

Tooth Erosion May Be a Sign of Alcoholism or Bulimia

You'll note that gastric fluid is a substance that can cause tooth erosion to occur. This refers to the stomach acids that are present when you vomit. Many people who suffer from alcoholism or bulimia will experience tooth erosion as a result of vomiting on a relatively frequent basis.

Given this information, if you should notice any signs of tooth erosion in a friend or loved one's smile as well as signed of alcoholism or bulimia, be sure to help them receive the medical care that they need to overcome these conditions.

Treatments for Tooth Erosion

Treatments for tooth erosion are similar to those for tooth decay in that the goal is to restore strength to compromised tooth structure.

The use of inlays, onlays, or dental crowns is common to rebuild the lost enamel of a tooth. By using these restorations, the appearance and strength of the compromised teeth is restored. The ideal dental restoration will depend on the extent of damage done to your teeth. If the teeth are severely damaged or decayed as a result of erosion, the ideal option for care may be the removal of the eroded teeth. Options for replacement include dental bridges or dentures.

All of these treatment matters can be addressed in greater detail during your consultation at the practice.

Tooth Erosion Prevention: Tips for Lasting Dental Health

In order to prevent tooth erosion from occurring, the following tips may be helpful:

  • Reduce your consumption of carbonated beverages and fruit juices
  • Drink water to stay hydrated and to rinse acidic food particles from your mouth
  • Use a straw to drink so the beverage bypasses direct contact with the teeth
  • Have a glass of milk or a piece of cheese at the end of a meal to make your oral pH more alkali
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss at least once a night
  • Use a toothpaste with fluoride
  • Visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups

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