What Is Acid Erosion?
Acid erosion, also known as dental erosion, is caused by the loss of tooth enamel due to acid attack. The surface of the tooth enamel is softened by food and drinks such as orange juice, fruits, soda, wine, etc. With the wearing away of the Enamel, the Dentin, which lies beneath it, is exposed which may lead to pain and sensitivity. Dental erosion is a chronic disease of children from ages 5-17.
The causes of enamel erosion include:
- Xerostomia: Dry mouth or low salivary flow.
- Excessive consumption of soft drinks, alcohol or beverages having high phosphoric and citric acid content.
- Some acids that are present in fruit juice can be more erosive than battery acid.
- A diet which is high in sugar and starches.
- Medications such as antihistamines and aspirin.
- Chronic acid reflux also is known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Eating disorders such as bulimia.
- Stomach acid: When the stomach acid comes in contact with the teeth as a result of vomiting and reflux, it can cause severe damage to the teeth.
- Environmental factors: Erosion of the tooth surface can be caused by wear and tear, stress, corrosion, and friction. The clinical terms of these mechanisms include:
- Corrosion – When the acidic content hits the tooth surface with medications such as vitamin C tablets or aspirin, highly acidic food, GERD, frequent vomiting from bulimia or alcoholism, it results in corrosion.
- Abfraction – It occurs from a stress fracture in the tooth such as cracks that are formed by flexing or bending the tooth.
- Abrasion – It is the physical wear and tear of the tooth surface, resulting from malpractices such as improper flossing, brushing too hard, chewing tobacco or biting on hard objects.
- Attrition – It is the natural tooth-to-tooth friction that occurs when the teeth are clenched or is ground such as in bruxism, which arises involuntarily during sleep.
- Yellowing teeth: The slightly yellow dentin layer underneath the enamel, becoming visible as a result of the wearing away of significant amounts of enamel.
- Rounded edges: The edges of the teeth become rounded due to the exposure to acids.
- Discolored enamel: With the wearing away of the enamel, the teeth may appear dull and yellow.
- Sensitivity: With the protective enamel wearing away and the underlying dentin layer becoming exposed, the teeth can become sensitive to heat and cold.
- Dental cracks: This is the appearance of small cracks and roughness at the edges of the teeth.
- Translucent teeth: The teeth can become visibly thinner due to the wearing away of the enamel. The edges of the tooth can become translucent.
- Cupping: The appearance of small dents on the chewing surface of the teeth and fillings may be detected in the tooth.
- Change in shape of the teeth: The teeth will have a broadly rounded concavity with the increase in the gaps between the teeth.
Acid erosion can be prevented by:
- Drinking water after consuming the acidic food or drink.
- Using a straw to finish acidic beverages to reduce their contact with the teeth and finishing the drink quickly.
- Substituting carbonated drinks with water, milk or tea.
- Not brushing after consuming acidic food or beverage; Waiting for half an hour and then brushing the teeth.
- Consuming acidic food during mealtime, along with other food.
- Drinking milk and other dairy elements for hardening the enamel.
- Using a neutralizing agent such as antacid suspension after vomiting.
- Applying dentine bonding agent to the exposed dentine
- Applying fluoride gels or varnishes to resist softening of enamel
- Using remineralizing agent, such as sodium fluoride solution, in the form of a tablet, lozenge or fluoride mouthwash just before brushing.
The enamel of the tooth cannot be naturally replaced, once it is lost. Further tooth enamel loss can be prevented with a strict remineralization regime and the usage of sensitive toothpaste. Sometimes tooth fillings may be used to protect the tooth. Covering the tooth with a crown can be recommended in case of the enamel loss is significant. In the process of Bonding, it involves applying a tooth-colored material known as the resin to the stained or damaged teeth.
Dr. Pushpa Sachdeva, the Best Dentist In Nairobi, recommends that dental hygiene must be taken good care of by following the food pyramid and consuming dairy products and whole grains rich in vitamins, iron, and magnesium.