What is it?
Acids in the mouth can dissolve away tooth surfaces. Given the chance, teeth will repair themselves, using minerals from saliva. But if acid is in the mouth too often, teeth cannot repair themselves and the hard tooth surface (the enamel) becomes thinner – this is called erosion.
The teeth can then become extra sensitive to hot and cold food and drink. Eroded teeth can also be more likely to suffer decay.
The main cause of erosion is too frequent consumption of certain kinds of food and drinks (including diet brands and fizzy mineral water) all sports drinks, all squashes and all fruit juices are acidic to varying degrees. Pickles and citrus fruits are examples of acidic types of food.
Some medicines are acidic and, therefore, erosive.
And some people with illnesses (such as eating disorders) may suffer from erosion because of frequent vomiting, as stomach acids also erode teeth. For this reason, dentist may ask about eating disorders if they see the teeth are badly eroded.
How do I prevent erosion?
Don’t have acidic foods and drinks too often during the day. Try to have them only at meal times. And drink acidic drinks quickly – don’t sip them. And don’t swish them around your mouth.
Between meals you should only have safe drinks. Milk and water are safe drinks So are tea and coffee if you don’t add sugar to them (you can use non sugar sweeteners)
You should try to avoid sacking between meals. If you do snacks, only have safe snacks, which are not sugary or acidic. Fruits, vegetables, sandwiches, toast, crumpets and pitta breads are safe snacks. You should try and avoid snacking between meals. Some fruits, especially citrus fruits, are acidic and are known to cause erosion if they are consumed in large quantities. This is not normally a problem for most people, however you could discuss with your dentist or hygienist the safest way of enjoying these fruits.
Because acids temporarily soften the tooth surface, don’t brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking something acidic.
You should always brush your teeth twice a day, and always use fluoride toothpaste.
How can my dentist help?
Your dentist can identify erosion, pinpoint the causes and advise you how to prevent further damage.