Dental erosion is a progressive condition that involves the loss of the outermost hard layer of your teeth. Contrary to what you may believe, this erosion is mostly caused by a chemical reaction and not by bacteria involvement. So what substances can lead to this chemical breakdown, and how can we prevent erosion? We answer those questions and more in today’s blog.
Causes of Tooth Erosion
Your teeth are composed of a number of different layers, with the outermost layer made up of enamel, or carbonated calcium hydroxyapatite. Your saliva helps to neutralize acids and keep your mouth and teeth at the correct pH balance, but if too much acid is introduced, saliva can’t work effectively and that acid can damage your enamel.
Here’s a look at some of the foods, liquids and lifestyle choices that can introduce an overabundance of acid into your mouth.
- Juices – Fruit juices and other sweetened beverages can introduce acid into your mouth, and you should avoid over-consuming these beverages. Given an option, water is almost always a better option for your teeth.
- Coffee – Coffee is highly acidic, and you’ll want to get in the habit of drinking some water to help clear acid off of the surfaces of your teeth once you’ve had your morning cup of coffee.
- Fruits – Although they are often packed with Vitamin C, fruits like apples and oranges are naturally acidic food options, so you’ll want to eat them with a meal or with water.
- Swimming – Swimmers who are regularly exposed to chlorinated water, which has a lowered pH level, can also experience gradual erosion of their teeth. If you’re a swimmer, be sure that you regularly brush your teeth.
- GERD – GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a condition that causes stomach acid to make its way back up into your esophageal canal, and if this happens regularly it can affect the pH level in your mouth. Medications or other interventions can help neutralize stomach acid or prevent regurgitation. Bulimia – If you vomit regularly, stomach acid will be moving along the surfaces of your teeth as it exits your system, exposing your teeth to potentially harmful acids. Excessive alcohol intake that leads to vomiting can also lead to this issue.
Some of these issues are easier to prevent than others, but now that you know how certain foods or actions can impact your teeth, you know how to limit the damage. Avoid overconsumption of acidic foods and drinks, and try to drink more water, as it will help wash acid off your teeth. Practice good dental habits, including regularly brushing your teeth and getting semi-annual cleanings from your dentist, and proactively manage any other conditions on this list that could be jeopardizing the health of your teeth.
Once your teeth erode, the only way to repair them is with extensive dental work. For more tips, or to schedule your next appointment with Dr. Brooks, reach out to his office today.