What is acid wear and what causes it?
Acid wear, also called acid erosion, is when acids dissolve the enamel (outer surface of the teeth). This makes the tooth soft and easily worn or chipped away. This leads to teeth looking smoother, shorter and more yellow and the tips of the teeth may appear see-through. Acid wear can also make the teeth become more sensitive to hot, cold and sweet things.
Once worn away the enamel cannot be replaced or grown back. The acids that cause erosion may come from foods you eat and drink. pH is a way of measuring how acidic something is. If the pH of food or drink is less than 5.5, it will dissolve your tooth enamel.
As well as foods and drinks, acids can also come from your stomach. If you vomit, or get acid reflux (heartburn) regularly, this can cause acid erosion. If you think this is happening to you, ask your doctor or dentist. People who drink a lot of alcohol are particularly susceptible to erosion as most alcoholic drinks are acidic. Excess alcohol consumption can also lead to vomiting.
How do I stop acid wear?
Changing your diet to reduce the amount of acidic food and drinks is important to stop further wear. Ideally, you need to cut out anything more acidic then pH 5.5 (to the left of the black line on the picture above). If you must drink something acidic, it is best to only drink it with a meal to help neutralise the acid, and/or drink using a straw. Drink it straight down without holding it in your mouth and after, use a mouthwash or rinse your mouth out with water but DO NOT brush your teeth for about 30 minutes. The acids cause the surface of the enamel to soften and if you brush during this period it is possible to physically brush the enamel away. Natural saliva will remineralise (harden) the enamel in about 30 minutes.
Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste (on the back of the packet, it should say that it contains more than 1450ppm or 0.312% of fluoride) will help to harden the enamel. Ask your dentist, who may recommend stronger toothpaste.
What treatment is available?
With acid erosion prevention is the key as there is not treatment that can help repair the enamel once is has been lost. However teeth affected by acid wear can be repaired with fillings and crowns. Unfortunately for very badly worn teeth extraction may be the only treatment available.
If you any questions regarding acid wear then do not hesitate to contact us at the surgery and we will answer all your questions.
St Stephens Dental Practice. Giving you the confidence to smile on 01227 452668 or at www.martinsouthondentist.co.uk