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Tooth Erosion: Causes of Acidic Damage and Treatment Options

By Dr. Everett Heringer on December 08, 2014


A blond man smiling at homeHere at Heringer Dentistry, we always make sure that patients in the greater Bismarck area have the information that they need to make smart choices about their dental health and wellness. This means providing detailed explanations of restorative dentistry procedures that improve dental health and wellness as well as explaining dental problems and what can be done to prevent and treat them.

With that latter in mind, we want to take this opportunity to go over some of the basics when it come to tooth erosion.

About Tooth Erosion

Also known as acidic erosion and dental erosion, tooth erosion refers to the damage and weakening of the enamel of the teeth as a result of an acidic oral pH. Once the enamel wears away, the acidity of the mouth will continue to wear down the dentin of the tooth and other parts of the tooth structure.

How is tooth erosion different from tooth decay?

While tooth erosion sounds like tooth decay, they are actually different problems. Tooth decay is caused by plaque created by oral bacteria eating away at a tooth's structure. This is an issue distinct from problems with oral pH.

Common Causes of Tooth Erosion

Common causes of acidic tooth erosion and generally acidic oral pH include:

  • Soft drinks
  • Fruit drinks
  • Vinegar
  • Dry mouth
  • High-starch diets
  • Acid reflux (GERD)
  • Gastric fluid

With regard to gastric fluid, tooth erosion is a common issue in alcoholics and bulimics given that each has a tendency to regurgitate. If you should notice issues with dental health combined with the warning signs of either of these behaviors, be sure to look into matters so your loved one can receive the medical help and intervention that he or she needs.

What happens if tooth erosion goes untreated?

If tooth erosion continues and the a person's oral pH continues to be acidic, a number of things can occur. First of all, there will be a noticeable yellowing of the teeth. This is because the enamel is wearing away and exposing the dentin layer of the teeth below it, which is more yellow in color. Patients will also notice a wearing down of the teeth overall in terms of shape and appearance, which is a sign that tooth structure is being severely compromised.

As the erosion progresses, patients can expect chipping and cracking of the teeth to occur, as well as toothaches and other kinds of associated dental pain.

Treatment Options for Tooth Erosion

The best treatment options for tooth erosion generally involve restoring the damaged tooth structure. This can be done using various dental restorations, such as fillings, inlays, onlays, and crowns. For significant tooth damage, the use of dental crowns is usually the most ideal option. Remineralizing agents and substances may also be prescribed in order to help rebuild damaged tooth structure.

Tips for Preventing Tooth Erosion

In order to prevent tooth erosion, we recommend the following:

  • Reducing consumption of soft drinks
  • Drinking beverages through a straw to bypass the teeth
  • Reducing intake of sweets and sugary snacks
  • Drinking water to help keep the mouth moist and less acidic
  • Drinking milk after a meal to restore an alkali pH
  • Brush your teeth at least an hour after having an acidic substance to avoid removing tooth enamel

Schedule a Consultation at Heringer Dentistry

To learn more about treating tooth erosion and what else you can do to address serious dental health problems, we encourage you to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team at Heringer Dentistry looks forward to discussing these issues with you in greater detail and helping you have a healthy smile.

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1839 E Capitol Ave
Bismarck, ND 58501

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