Tooth Erosion, also referred to as Dental Erosion or Acidic Erosion, is caused by non-bacterial acid destroying the enamel of teeth. What do we mean by non-bacterial acid? Our mouths are always covered in bacteria – some healthy and some not so healthy, and acid is the end result of normal oral bacteria feeding on food remnants that get lodged between teeth and under gum tissue. As gross as it may sound, this form of acid formation is considered a normal response and can be controlled by minimizing the amount of bacteria (plaque) with regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings. However, teeth that have been eroded by acidic erosion have had sustained contact with an acidic substance that has altered the pH balance of the mouth.
Can Acidic Foods Cause Tooth Erosion?
When speaking about acidic substances that erode tooth enamel, it’s easy to assume that it’s only substances such as Methadone – notorious for creating “meth mouth,” that leaves young smiles destroyed by the highly acidic nature of the drug. But the reality is that common, day-to-day foods like lemons, sodas, sports drinks, fruit juices, sour candy, and all types of vinegar can cause damage to tooth enamel due to the high level of acidic ingredients (phosphoric, malic, citric, tartaric). Avoiding these foods altogether or greatly reducing exposure to them will reduce the degree of tooth erosion – helping to keep teeth stronger, whiter, and healthier.
Why Do Teens Have a Higher Rate of Tooth Erosion?
When you read the above list of foods that put teeth at risk of tooth erosion, it’s clear to see why teenagers would be a high risk group. Sports drinks, sodas, and sour candy are often consumed daily by some teens, and if you throw orthodontic brackets and wires into the mix you’ve got the perfect environment for teeth to become a target for acids that literally eat through enamel. Why do orthodontic brackets and wires play a role in tooth erosion? Preventing dental erosion involves avoiding highly acidic foods and brushing and flossing diligently — something that can be tricky when orthodontic gear is being worn. Add to the fact that sodas and acidic candy accumulate around brackets that are often poorly brushed, and it makes sense to see destroyed enamel where brackets were placed. Young patients suffering from bulimia also exhibit the signs of tooth erosion due to acidic stomach contents coming in contact with teeth.
For more information on treating and preventing Tooth Erosion, contact the General Dentists at Ranchlands Dental today online or by phone at (403) 239-5212, and follow our next blog to discover how teeth with erosion can be restored.