What is acid wear?
In the context of dentistry, acid wear is the loss of tooth structure caused by exposure to certain acids in the mouth. These acids start off by dissolving the outer surface of the tooth, called enamel. If the erosion progresses further into the middle layer of the tooth, known as dentine, it may cause pain and sensitivity. If it reaches the inner layer, known as pulp, severe pain and infection (including the early stages of gum disease) may follow.
The loss of tooth structure from erosion can occur more quickly if other processes such as dental decay and teeth grinding are present.
How to avoid acid wear
Acid wear is prevented by identifying and limiting exposure to acids. Some common sources include:
- drinks that contain acids (fizzy drinks, alcohol, fruit juices and cordial)
- foods that contain acids (citrus fruits, pickles and other vinegar-containing foods)
- acid regurgitation caused by reflux, vomiting (such as morning sickness).
- medications that are acidic (chewable Vitamin C tablets and aspirin)
- frequent exposure to improperly chlorinated water in swimming pools.
Other risk factors include dry mouth, which can be caused by medical conditions (e.g. Sjogren’s syndrome) or medications (e.g. antihistamines). Saliva can play an important role in bufferng or reducing the effect of acids in the mouth.
Some other techniques for minimising the effect of acidic drinks are:
- limiting contact with teeth by drinking quickly rather than frequently sipping
- using a straw to reduce contact as above
- rinsing with water immediately after drinking to help return the oral environment to neutral acidity
- refraining from brushing teeth for thirty minutes after consuming acidic beverages to avoid toothbrush abrasion.If you are taking medication, try limiting its contact with your teeth – for example, swallow chewable Vitamin C or aspirin whole, or break the tablets into fragments to swallow whole.
Management of acid wear
Dental erosion is not naturally reversible. However, once identified, your dentist can monitor it for changes – by using dental models or photographs, for example. The cause of acid wear should be addressed with preventive strategies as those discussed above. Additionally, fluoride treatments may be prescribed to strengthen the remaining tooth structure.
When the tooth disease process is stabilised, your teeth may be able to be restored using veneers, filling materials or crowns. In some cases, other procedures may also be required, such as root canal treatment.
It is important to recognise that tooth erosion may occur in conjunction with other forms of tooth disease and gum disease and that a comprehensive examination is essential to recognise other problems in advance of treatment.
For further information, please call Smile Solutions on 13 13 96.