Tooth Erosion: It’s on the Rise
Matthew Norman, DDS and Michelle Phillips, RDH
The trend of healthier eating in the past couple of years has lead to more incidents of tooth erosion in patients. With increased consumption of fruits, juices, and even salads, more and more are complaining of tooth sensitivity and have a clinical presence of acid erosion.
Prior to the last couple of years, the two most common causes of acid erosion in one’s tooth enamel was acid reflux or an eating disorder. Today, the most common reason for erosion seems to be from eating healthy! The table below shows the pH of many “healthy” foods, along with their level of erosion.
Over time, acid erosion causes the enamel of the teeth to slowly dissolve, which can make the teeth appear darker in color. The shape and size of the teeth can also slowly diminish. As the enamel is eroded away, the underlying layer of the tooth, the dentin, is exposed. The exposed dentin provides a direct passageway to the inner layer of the tooth, the nerve or pulp. This is why erosion can cause tooth sensitivity.
As you can see in the illustration, the acidic foods and beverages slowly remove the enamel from your teeth. This example is somewhat extreme, but it provides a great representation of what erosion can do.
Here are some examples of acid erosion along the gumline of the top front teeth.
The best way to reduce your risks of tooth erosion, especially with a highly acidic diet, is to drink lots of water. Remember the pH of water is 7…it’s neutral. This is the best way to neutralize the pH of your mouth and prevent the acids from doing damage to your enamel!