What is enamel erosion and how to prevent it?

Enamel erosionMost people know that sugar is one of the prime causes of tooth decay but how many of us realise that there’s a whole host of other products out there which could be attacking our teeth throughout the day. Whilst sugar will always be the main culprit, even a very healthy sugar free diet can still lead to decay if proper consideration isn’t given to your oral health.

What is enamel erosion?

The outer enamel layer is critical for protecting the whole tooth but it is susceptible to erosion from acids in foods and drinks. Once this layer starts to fail that’s when you start to get decay and cavities, leading to fillings and extractions. Signs of enamel erosion are cracking, yellowing, transparency at the tips and increased sensitivity with hot and cold food and drinks.

What should I avoid?

Sugar should be avoided always and if you can’t give up the sugar ‘fix’ from a drink then use a straw to try to get as little of the liquid on your teeth as possible. It’s not just sugar though; lots of other, seemingly virtuous, foods and drinks are actually acidic to the teeth. Fizzy water, vinegar, fruit juices and smoothies are all potentially harmful and lemon juice is almost as acidic as battery acid! Never use your teeth to open bottles, crack sweets, chew ice cubes, etc. All of these things can damage the enamel.

What can I do to prevent enamel erosion?

Always stick to a good routine of brushing: twice a day minimum for at least two minutes and make regular trips to the dentist. That’s not the whole story though. If you really want to try to avoid enamel erosion then try to stick to three meals a day and don’t snack. It can take three hours for the acid from food to disappear from the mouth and if you don’t give your teeth a break and are constantly snacking then you’re increasing the risk of damage. Try to brush after every meal but if you can’t then you can finish with a crunch vegetable or salad or even chew sugar-free gum for a few minutes to break down the acid and increase the flow of saliva.

If you’re at all concerned that you may have signs of enamel erosion or you want more detailed advice about the problem, then please arrange a consultation with our specialist endodontists, Dr Rohan Rajasingham and Dr Tim Sunnucks.