Acid Erosion, also known as Acid Wear, is the erosion of the teeth by acid that doesn’t come from bacteria. In our article, we’ll look at the symptoms, causes and treatments for acid wear.
Symptoms of Acid Wear
There are many signs of acid wear, which can include:
- Teeth becoming thin and translucent, especially at the tips
- Changes to the surface of the teeth (smoothing)
- Loss of structural features of the tooth (rounding)
- Teeth becoming yellow
Teeth becoming yellow is an advanced sign of acid wear. You may also experience increased sensitivity, as the acid is wearing away the enamel on your tooth and exposing the dentine underneath. To read more about sensitivity, check out our article here.
One of the most severe signs of acid wear is teeth beginning to crack off and become course.
What causes Acid Wear?
Acid wear can be caused by acidic food and drink, stomach acid, and brushing too hard.
Drinks that may cause acid wear include fruit juices (like apple and orange juice), sports drinks, wine, beer, and carbonated drinks (like cola and lemonade).
Foods that can cause acid wear include fresh fruits, ketchup, and food pickled in vinegar.
It is believed that frequent, rather than total, intake of acidic food and drink has more of an impact on your teeth.
Acid wear can also be caused by stomach acid coming into contact with the teeth. This means that acid wear can be a side-effect of conditions such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, gastroesophageal reflux disease (Acid Reflux), and rumination syndrome.
Some medications can also increase your risk of acid wear.
How is Acid Wear treated?
The treatment for acid wear depends on what is causing it and how severe the damage already is.
The first treatment will normally involve remineralisation of the affected teeth. This may be through a fluoride varnish applied by your dentist, a fluoride gel to apply at home, or switching to a toothpaste containing stannous fluoride.
You may require restoration to build back structure that your teeth have lost. A small area of erosion can be restored with a filling, moderate damage may need veneers, while severe damage may require crowns.
However, long term treatments like these will only be successful if the cause of the acid wear is identified and prevented.
You can reduce your risk of acid wear by limiting acidic food intake. If you drink fruit juices or carbonated drinks, drink them with a straw or as part of a meal to minimize the damage they do to your teeth. You can neutralise acid in your mouth by drinking a glass of water or reverse the damage with something high in calcium and phosphate (like milk or cheese).
Try not to brush your teeth for at least half an hour after eating or drinking something acidic. The same applies if stomach acid has come into contact with your teeth.
Chewing sugar free gum can help to encourage your mouth to produce more saliva, which in turn helps your teeth recover from exposure to excess acid.