Our latest “Dentistry in Focus Article” from November 2016 is by Dr Wilkie and concerns Dental Erosion.
Erosion is a result of acids dissolving the tooth surface. When acids contact teeth directly they lower the pH of the mouth causing the enamel (outer tooth surface) to dissolve overtime revealing dentine (second tooth layer). This can become quite sensitive to hot, cold and sweet foods. Dentine is more susceptible to developing decay resulting in more fillings that could be prevented.
Erosion affects all teeth but can often be seen to affect the biting surfaces of back teeth and the top front teeth. Erosion will cause a pitting appearance in the surface of the enamel eventually leading to hole in the tooth surface.
Below is different appearances of dental erosion.
Images provided by Dr Belinda Wilkie
Causes of erosion
Common erosive products include soft drinks, soda water and energy drinks. Other less obvious causes of erosion include consuming too much juice and citric fruits such as oranges and lemons.
Erosion can also be a result of reflux disorders, morning sickness and some medications. It is important if suffering from these conditions to maintain a good oral hygiene through regular brushing and rinsing your mouth with water to limit erosive damage.
The best way to prevent erosion is to cut the source out completely. However, if you are having fizzy drinks try and limit them to meal times and drink them all in one sitting rather than sipping throughout the day. You can also try drinking through a straw to reduce acids being placed directly onto the teeth and rinse with water after having something fizzy.
Try to avoid brushing your teeth immediately after consuming something acidic as the teeth are ‘softer’ meaning brushing can wear away some of the tooth surface. Ideally, wait 30-60 minutes before brushing your teeth to allow the teeth to become ‘harder’ resulting in less damage to the tooth surface.
Consulting with your GMP can help manage any underlying reflux disorders or conditions that may also reduce dental erosion.
It is important to maintain regular dental visits to monitor erosive lesions. Your Dentist or Dental Oral Health Therapist/Hygienist may recommend high fluoride toothpastes to help strengthen teeth and prevent further erosion however this is only effective if the source of erosion is reduced.
Some lesions need to be restored with fillings to prevent or manage decay that may be forming. Fillings can also reduce any sensitivity by covering dentine, reducing symptoms to hot, cold and sweet foods. Fillings also have the benefit of improving the appearance of erosive lesions, particularly when they affect your front teeth. Crowns may also be used to help strengthen and improve appearance of teeth severely damaged by erosion.
About the Author
Dr Belinda Wilkie is a local from Bendigo having grown up and now completed her studies here. Based at our Condon Street practice, Dr Wilkie is available 5 days a week. Dr Wilkie is also part of the Bendigo Dental Implants team, helping to assist Dr Robertson with the impressions and 3D X-rays for the implant planing. Dr Wilkie also loves working with our younger patients, helping to establish good oral hygiene practices.