Tooth wear is on the rise in the UK with over three-quarters of adults and 50 per cent of children showing some signs or erosion or abrasion. Tooth enamel is the hardest structure in the body, even harder than bone. It coats our teeth, protecting the sensitive dentine layer underneath and it can become eroded gradually as the result of acid attack.
As well as aesthetic changes to the teeth, enamel erosion can lead to increased sensitivity to taste and temperature and also puts sufferers at increased risk of tooth decay. Up till now, it’s not been possible to reverse enamel erosion, but researchers at Queen Mary University of London have recently developed an innovative way to regenerate lost dental enamel.
The scientists found a protein that triggers the growth of crystals similar to the way that dental enamel develops in the body. “This is exciting because the simplicity and versatility of the mineralisation platform opens up opportunities to treat and regenerate dental tissues,” Dr Sherif Elsharkawy, a dentist and part of the team, explains
This discovery could have many applications in regenerative medicine and be of huge importance for modern dentistry. However, in the meantime, preventative measures remain the most effective solution to dental erosion.
How do I prevent dental erosion?
Every time you eat or drink anything acidic, it attacks the enamel on your teeth, causing your teeth to become softer until your saliva restores the natural balance in your mouth. Over time and if this acid attack happens too often then this repair process becomes less effective and enamel becomes eroded. Medical conditions such as alcoholism, bulimia or oesophageal problems which cause vomiting or release of acids into the mouth from the stomach can all increase the risk of enamel erosion.
Here are our tips on how to prevent enamel erosion:
- Fizzy drinks can be highly acidic and should be limited to mealtimes to reduce the number of acid attacks on the teeth
- Don’t be fooled by diet or healthy options – even flavoured fizzy water can cause dental erosion over time as they contain weak acids
- Many sports drinks also contain ingredients that contribute to dental erosion
- Limit highly acidic foods and drinks such as fruit and fruit juices, particularly citric juices as they contain high levels of natural acids
- Using a straw can reduce contact on the teeth
- Certain foods and drinks can help cancel out acid attacks such as cheese and milk
- Chewing sugar-free gum after your meals can stimulate saliva production
- Don’t brush teeth immediately after eating or drinking as it gives your teeth a chance to harden
- A fluoride toothpaste and/or mouthwash should be used
Regular check-ups are also an essential aspect of prevention as erosion can be spotted at an early stage and treatment provided, in the form of a filling or crown, if required. Call Bristol dentist CK Dental on 0117 906 4868 to arrange a check-up today.