Acid erosion is a common issue that doesn't have a quick fix and can result in costly procedures down the line. Preventative oral care can help though!
First, let’s talk about enamel vs dentin!
The outer layer of a tooth is called the enamel. It’s what we focus on when brushing and polishing, and is what keeps our teeth hard and strong. The enamel is like a rock: it doesn’t grow! If you were to take sandpaper to a rock and wear it down, you would end up with a flat spot that would never replenish itself. Your enamel is the same way, and this is important to remember. A healthy tooth has a healthy enamel, which is bright and white.
If the enamel of a tooth is worn down, the next layer is exposed, which is called dentin. Dentin is yellow in colour compared to the bright white of the enamel. This layer is much softer, and when exposed, can cause sensitivity.
Now to introduce you to our enemy, acid erosion.
Acid erosion is the depletion of tooth enamel due to acid attack. Since the dentin is becoming exposed as the acid eats away at the enamel, your teeth may turn a yellowish colour and become more sensitive to hot and cold foods.
The acid responsible for enamel erosion gets into our mouths through our diet. Your saliva is trained to cancel out the attack from these acids. However, if the acid attacks are too much for it to handle, your mouth won’t be able to protect and repair itself. It is totally normal to have acid in your mouth, and avoiding acidic foods isn’t the only way to protect your teeth!
Foods that are high in acid:
Blackberries, blueberries and strawberries
Carbonated soft drinks, including diet
Apple juice and apple cider
Cola or Soda
Think you may have signs of acid erosion? Don’t panic.
Acid erosion doesn’t just suddenly appear and become a problem. With proper maintenance and visits to your dental hygienist, measures can be taken to prevent damage done by acid attack.
If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a dentist or dental hygienist and it is discovered that you have serious acid erosion, a filling may be needed, or in the worst case, veneers. Your dental hygienist can discuss these options with you and help you pick the best course of treatment based on your individual case.
So how do you protect your teeth?
There are a couple tips we have for you to prevent acid attacks from eroding the enamel in your mouth:
Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride remineralizes your enamel to keep it strong. Be sure you are brushing for 2 minutes in order for the fluoride to do its job.
Don’t swish around or hold acidic beverages in your mouth. The less contact that acidic foods and beverages have with your teeth, the better.
Drink acidic drinks at meal times to lower the number of acid attacks on your teeth.
Wait at least one hour after eating or drinking anything acidic before brushing your teeth. In this time, your teeth will build up their mineral content again. The enamel will no longer be at its softest and most vulnerable, so the brushing action won’t damage it.
Visit your dental hygienist every six months for a cleaning. You can ask your hygienist about getting a fluoride treatment with your cleaning to further protect your teeth. Most importantly - follow your hygienists advice! They’ll know and understand your mouth, and what will work best for you.