Call for an Appointment Today
(518) 861-5136

Your partners on the road to education,
prevention, and dental health

Chemical Erosion of Teeth

April 27th, 2011

Chemical Erosion of Teeth
While most of our preventive energies are spent in the areas of tooth decay and gum disease, there remains an area of prevention that is often overlooked.  When tooth structure is exposed to acids, the enamel and dentin begin to have the minerals leached out.  This demineralization exposes the microscopic framework, which will eventually break apart resulting in loss of tooth structure.
The scale we use to measure acid and base is the pH scale.  It runs from acid readings starting at zero to neutral at 7 and to base at a high of 14.  Water is a neutral 7, and tooth enamel begins to erode at 5.5.  Dentin erodes at a higher reading of 6.4 (thus it takes less acid to erode root surfaces).  We need to understand that this de-mineralization acts to weaken and destroy teeth.
Most soft drinks have a pH somewhere between 3 and 4 with some as low as 2.4.   (Battery acid has a pH of 1.)  Remember it’s the acidity that we are dealing with here, not the sugar, so the diet drinks and the non-carbonated ones provide equal risks.  A popular iced tea mix comes in at 2.9.  And sour candies dissolved in water dropped pH to between 2.3 and 3.1.  Of course the acid alone does not do the damage.  Factors such as frequency from sipping over long periods or sucking on candies like jaw breakers for an extended time, poor salivary flow, and poor oral hygiene will also affect the outcome from acid exposure.
Remember that the process of tooth decay begins with bacterial plaque that covers the teeth.  The bacteria use carbohydrate in the diet and produce acids that demineralize tooth structure, leading to a cavity.  Once the cavity forms, the tooth needs dental restorative treatment.  By promoting an acid environment, the bacteria will cause cavities quicker since the tooth surface has already become weakened.
The good news is that this process is relatively easy to control.  You merely need to take the proper precautions to eliminate the risks associated with excessive acid exposure.
– Minimize the exposure time to acidic foods or drinks.  Just drink or eat the foods and avoid sipping or sucking on these for extended periods.
– If you have symptoms of dry mouth, check with your physician or dentist.  Decreased saliva is often a side effect of medications and can sometimes be treated by switching medications or reducing doses.  In any case, avoid sucking on tart candies to stimulate saliva as these usually have citric acid, one of the most damaging to tooth surfaces.
– Use mouth moisturizing products that are neutral and have no sugars added.
– For sipping and between meals drink water.
You can also help to remineralize areas of demineralization.  If the microscopic framework is intact, it will remineralize in the presence of fluoride, calcium and phosphorus.  Ask your dentist to recommend products that assist in this process.

Copyright © ICOM 2010. All rights reserved.
This page is created by ICOM
Please report problems to webmaster.