Aoife talks about “Tooth Enamel Loss and Dental Erosion”

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Aoife talks about “Tooth Enamel Loss and Dental Erosion”

by Dental Design, on 9th September 2014 | 0 comments
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In recent years, it has become apparent that our teeth are at risk from substances other than sugar – specifically, from acids. These acids can soften the enamel, which is then worn or eroded away through the action of chewing or tooth brushing.

I have written before about the damage and decay that eating and drinking sugar-containing food can do, and today I’d like to talk about acid in the diet.


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Enamel is thin natural material that is covering main body of our teeth. Although it is very thin (up to 2 millimeters at the top and much thinner at sides), it is the hardest tissue of a human body with only one purpose – to protect our dentine (main body of our teeth). Although it sounds like it is unbreakable, it can crack, chip or simply wear away over time.

It isn’t made out of living cells and it can’t heal itself if it breaks.

Our teeth can only recover minor enamel damage caused by acid erosion at a microscopic level. This is what specialist toothpastes such as GC ToothMousse or Pronamel aim to do.

Signs You May Have Acid Erosion:

Tooth sensitivity can be the first sign of thinning enamel. The more sensitive your teeth are to cold, hot or sweet foods and drinks, the more likely it is that enamel has been lost.


Another sign is discoloration of your teeth. They can become yellow and transparent, with chipped and sharp edges. This image is of significant enamel loss, and this person would require intervention from their dentist to restore the lost enamel and prevent further loss.

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What causes enamel thinning?

A certain level of mechanical wear can’t really be avoided 100%, as your teeth will wear against each other over time and this will thin your enamel slightly.


However, the most common reason for enamel loss on a tooth is acid erosion. This is caused by softening of the enamel when acid, either from the stomach or from acidic foods, comes into contact with the tooth surface. This softening is not necessarily a problem, as long as the enamel is given enough time to recover and replace the hard minerals lost to the acid in the mouth. More often, though, this does not happen and the softened enamel is either brushed away with tooth brushing or worn away during eating.


It is best to avoid this happening by reducing your exposure to acidic foods and drinks, and by managing any medical problems that cause acid to be brought up into the mouth from the stomach.


How to prevent Dental Erosion and how to minimize the effects of acids in the diet:


Avoid / Reduce:

  • Soft drinks (which contain citric and phosphoric acids as preservatives).
  • Daily fruit juice consumption
  • Daily consumption of citrus fruits between meals
  • Acid from the stomach coming into the mouth; in cases of heartburn, or frequent vomiting such as that seen in alcohol abuse, and in eating disorders such as Bulimia.


Be Aware that You Should:


  • Wait for at least 30 minutes before you brush your teeth after you had a meal, have vomited or if you have had an acidic drink. Enamel is temporarily softened at that time and vulnerable to mechanical erosion.
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and don’t brush too aggressively.
  • See your Doctor if you have frequent heartburn, or any condition that causes you to vomit once a week or more.  (e.g., Eating disorder, alcohol abuse)
  • Tell your Dentist if you experience tooth sensitivity, or have any of the medical conditions mentioned, as we have many options for prevention and treatment of tooth surface loss and dental sensitivity.


Written by Dr Aoife O’Donoghue





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