A common finding during our dental examinations at Smile Solutions is dental erosion. This condition arises when the dental enamel on the tooth surface has dissolved. Any affected tooth can have worn-down surfaces and appear shorter.
Clinical signs of dental erosion can range from slight loss of tooth surface to extensive loss of tissue, with nerve exposure. Patients may present as asymptomatic or in a degree of pain, from mild to severe.
The causes of dental erosion are all environmental – coming from inside the body (an intrinsic source) or from the external environment (extrinsic sources).
The extrinsic sources may be dietary (including acidic diet drinks or foods), industrial, or pharmacological (medications).
The only known intrinsic cause of dental erosion is acid reflux. For the affected patient it is important to identify the acid source and determine whether the dental erosion has ceased or is still progressing. Identifying the cause of the condition can help prevent further acid exposure or help minimise the effects of the acid where it is not possible to remove the cause.
Saliva performs an important role in the oral cavity, helping dilute and wash away food particles and acids. If a patient has a dry mouth, erosion may act faster on the tooth surfaces as insufficient saliva is present to serve as protection.
What is the recommended prevention or treatment?
A number of factors can help avoid or modify erosion of the tooth surfaces – among them oral hygiene practices, choice of medication and the consumption of fluoride.
At Smile Solutions we recommend that all patients:
- rinse their mouth out immediately after exposure to acidic drinks or foods
- avoid brushing for at least 30 minutes after exposure to extra oral acidic causes
- change their diet to include more neutral and less acidic choices
- avoid drinking juices between meal times
- drink any acidic juices or soft drinks through a straw to minimise contact within the oral cavity
- chew sugar-free gum
- ask their medical practitioner to prescribe an alternative medication if a current medication is affecting saliva flow / causing dry mouth
- drink fluoridated tap water in preference to bottled water. If fluoridated tap water is unavailable, then bottled water is still better for your teeth than juice, cordial, sports drinks, or carbonated or uncarbonated drinks.
Please ask one of our dentists or oral hygienists if you would like further information about prevention or treatment of dental erosion.