Dental Erosion


Dental erosion is a condition where the tooth enamel is dissolved due to the presence of acids from the diet or from the digestive system. Differently from decay, erosion is not initiated by bacteria.

Erosion can lead to worn out teeth, and if not addressed in time, enamel is dissolved, leading to exposure of dentin, which has nerves and results in sensitivity.

Frequent consumption of acidic foods and drinks and a digestive condition called acid reflux are the two most common causes for dental erosion.

Some studies indicate that people that follow vegan, vegetarian and plant-based diets are at higher risk for dental erosion due to the high amount of fruits in their diets. Fruits are very high in a variety of dietary acids, with the potential to cause erosion. The top ten most acidic fruits and juices are, from the most to the less acidic: lemon juice, lime, blue plum, grape, pomegranate, grapefruit, blueberries, pineapple, apple and peach.



When you eat or drink something acidic, the enamel (the outer layer a tooth) loses some minerals and becomes a little softer for a short while. Under normal conditions, within one hour, saliva replenishes the lost minerals and neutralizes the acids, reestablishing balance.

Both saliva and diet are important factors for the management of dental erosion. Dry mouth and the use of some medications can predispose to this condition.



Another factor that can increase the risk for dental erosion in a bad bite. When the teeth and jaws do not meet properly, chewing forces concentrate in some areas, creating uneven wear patterns that can increase dental erosion.

The unbalanced forces from a bad bite can increase the loss of minerals from the enamel. This process is called tooth abfraction, and it has the potential to create a lot of damage to the enamel, especially when combined with erosion.

In addition, crooked teeth provide hidden places that can be unreachable for saliva to neutralize acids and for oral hygiene, thus increasing the risk for damage.



If a medical digestive problem that results in an acidic environment in the mouth is present, it needs to be addressed before the dental treatment.

Fruits, fruit juices, fizzy drinks, sports drinks and sodas are acidic and should be consumed in moderation at mealtimes. Acidic liquids should be swallowed as quickly as possible to limit contact with the teeth; a straw can also be used. In order to prevent and limit erosion, after eating or drinking highly acidic products, you should chew a sugar-free gum for 20 minutes to stimulate saliva and neutralize the acids. Please note that if you have a bad bite, it might be difficult to chew gum without getting tension in the chewing muscles.

Fluoride also helps decreasing mineral loss; however, because the enamel becomes temporarily softer after being exposed to acids, and because saliva helps replenish lost mineral, you should wait at least 1 hour before brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste after eating or drinking.

The dentist can apply topical fluoride to help manage dental erosions. If the lesions are extensive and result in pain, they will require restoration.

If a bad bite is present, orthodontic treatment can correct the teeth, the bite and the jaws, giving better conditions for oral hygiene and less risk of enamel wear. Bite correction also improves the conditions in the jaw joint, decreases headaches and pain in the head, neck, shoulders and even back.

Adults can easily undergo orthodontic treatment using clear aligner therapy, which are removable, discrete and much more comfortable than braces. Both the bite and the smile can get a makeover with clear aligner therapy.

Would you like to know more about bad bite, tooth wear and clear aligner therapy? Get an appointment with your orthodontist today.