Tooth erosion is caused by acidic foods and drinks. It is becoming increasingly more common, especially due to greater consumption of fizzy drinks including diet brands.
Acids in the mouth can dissolve away tooth surfaces. Given the chance, teeth will repair themselves, using minerals from saliva. But if acid is in the mouth too often, teeth cannot repair themselves and the hard tooth surface (the enamel) becomes thinner ending up by dental erosion. The teeth can then become extra sensitive to hot and cold food and drink. Eroded teeth can also be more likely to suffer decay.
The main cause of erosion is too frequent consumption of certain kinds of food and drink. All fizzy drinks including diet brands and fizzy mineral water, all power drinks, all squashes and all fruit juices are acidic to varying degrees. Pickles and citrus fruits are examples of acidic types of food. People with some illnesses such as eating disorders may suffer from erosion because of frequent vomiting of stomach acids which erode teeth. For this reason, dentists may ask about eating disorders if they see teeth that are very badly eroded.
Here are some key tips to prevent erosion:
Try and avoid consuming acidic food and / or drink too often during the day.
Try to have them only at mealtimes.
Drink acidic drinks quickly, ideally through a straw and don’t sip them or swish them round your mouth.
Between meals you should only have safe drinks, which are not sugary or acidic. Milk and water are safe drinks. So are tea and coffee if you do not add sugar to them (you can use non-sugar sweeteners).
Acids temporarily soften the tooth surface so you should not brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking something acidic.
Your dentist can identify erosion, pinpoint the causes and advise you how to prevent further damage.