Shortening and wearing of the teeth, yellow teeth and sensitive teeth often result from acid erosion. Acid erosion is caused by drinking and eating too much acidic drinks and foods. This is mainly noticed as cupping on the teeth where the enamel has dissolved inwards. In today’s modern world there are so many delicious drink and food choices that have a high acidic content to cause acid erosion. We often focus on the sugar content to prevent cavities, but acid content is of equal importance.
Combine an acidic diet with moderate grinding and the end result is tooth wear and shorter teeth. As the enamel is softened and the molars grind together they become shorter, so the support for the front teeth is lost. The front teeth then start to grind together more and more. Very often by the time you may notice that your front teeth seem shorter than some old photos you have, significant damage is already done.
Yellow teeth can result from acid erosion when the acidic drinks and foods dissolve and thin out the enamel. Enamel is white and the underlying tooth structure is yellow. Hence the yellow glows through more and more as the white enamel thins. The drink hits the upper front teeth first, so they sustain the greatest acid erosion.
Sensitive teeth result mostly from a thinning of the enamel with acid erosion along the gum line where teeth are most sensitive. It can also occur on the tops of the teeth as molar cupping or incisal cupping. It only takes a little acid to dissolve the enamel and expose the softer under layer or dentine which is very sensitive. It is also frequently seen on the tips of the lower molars.
“It is also worth noting that dehydration means low levels of saliva in the mouth. If there is limited or no saliva, there is nothing to neutralize the acid, making acid attack very easy and aggressive.” – Dr Barbara Szylkarski
The biggest cause of acid eroison today is soft drink, both carbonated and acidic, which does a fine job in dissolving enamel. This list is extensive and particularly points to black cola drinks which are also addictive and dehydrating. There is also an emerging trend towards lemon and hot water drinks, used to improve digestion. This is a very destructive habit.
To give you an idea:
•Pool acid has a PH of 1, Milk is not acidic and has a PH of 7, Lemons and Black Cola drinks are approx PH 2.5. Very close to Pool Acid!
•Sport Drinks are acidic and consumed during or after exercise, a significant time of dehydration when the saliva flow is low
•Fruit Juices are often forgotten as we see these as being healthy. But remember that a glass of juice may have up to 5 pieces of fruit in it, as opposed to just eating one piece of fruit! Excessive fruit consumption in itself can be a problem, particularly oranges, lemons and grapes.
•Vitamin Drinks – Vitamins are best consumed as a tablet/capsule with water, rather than dissolved in the water
•And don’t forget Wine! Delightful but destructive.
There are many other conditions and medications that can add to dehydration, loss of saliva and acid erosion. Reflux, vomiting, ventolin puffers, antidepressant medication are just some.
Next blog we will look at what you can do about acid erosion, but until then drink and rinse with plenty of tap water, before, during and after meals, snacks and exercise.
If erosion is extreme a full mouth reconstruction may be required.