January 30, 2014 - Roland Chong

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Welcome to the fourth issue of YOUR DENTAL CARE News.

In our third issue we discussed The wonders of tooth brushing & flossing. If you missed this issue please visit our website http://www.procarefamilydental.com.au/news.

This article will be discussing the role of acid in the mouth causing dental erosion and how that affects your dental health. This will be the first of 3 articles on dental erosion.

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Acid attack!…

The surface of our teeth is constantly breaking down and re-building in our mouths. Whenever teeth are exposed to acid, the structure of the teeth begins to lose minerals, which are the building blocks of the teeth. This process is known as demineralisation.

But thankfully we have saliva which washes away food debris, dilutes and neutralises the acids in our mouths. This helps the teeth to repair, with minerals moving back into the tooth. This process is known as remineralisation.

Dental erosion.

A net loss of tooth structure results when demineralisation exceeds remineralisation. Eventually this can lead to cavities and/or thinner, shorter teeth. The latter is the result of dental erosion.

The three main sources of acid in the mouth are the stomach, bacteria and diet.

1. Stomach acids come into contact with teeth  from vomiting and reflux.

2. Bacteria in our mouth produce acid as a waste by-product when they consume sugar from our diet.

3. There are many forms of food and beverages which are very acidic. Frequent consumption leads to dental erosion.

Dental erosion can lead to pain as the outer protective enamel layer is dissolved away (see figure 2). If left untreated, the tooth could die, causing toothache resulting in the tooth having to be extracted or root canal treated to save the tooth.

As the teeth begin to thin they start to chip and break away. When the front teeth are affected, as seen in the first image, the teeth become shorter and rough over time. This will have an impact on your appearance and smile.

Dental restorations in teeth affected by the erosive effects of acid will breakdown faster and require frequent replacement. In some cases the loss of tooth structure can be bad enough to require the use of expensive crowns or part crowns to restore the tooth to proper function.

Figure 1. Courtesy of Dr Alfred D Wyatt Jr/Webmd.com

Figure 2. Courtesy of ASCRO.

Dental erosion is preventable and we will be discussing the role of the various types of food and beverages which can contribute to  erosion of teeth in our next article.

Roland Chong

Roland has over 18 years experience as a general dentist. Roland does all aspects of general dentistry with a special interest in prosthodontics (crown and bridge work) and cosmetic dentistry. A member of the International Team of Implantology, Roland is constantly developing his skills by collaborating with international experts.

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