Attack of the Acids! Understanding Enamel Erosion, Pt. 1

Tooth enamel erosionIt is no secret that drinking soda subjects your teeth to an unhealthy amount of sugar and acid, but not everyone realizes that many “healthy” foods can harm tooth enamel, too. When acid from our food or drinks comes into contact with tooth enamel, it gradually wears away this protective layer. As a result, you can develop sensitive teeth, or the teeth may become easily discolored. This does not mean you must give up healthy foods just because they are acidic. You can still enjoy them as long as you do so in a smart way.

Tooth and Enamel Erosion Defined

Erosion is wear and tear of the tooth that occurs as the result of damaging the tooth enamel. Enamel, the thin, white layer of protective tissue that covers your teeth, plays an essential role in the support and shape of your tooth. As it wears thin, the layer of dentin below is exposed. Unlike enamel, dentin is naturally yellow in color. Without enamel, the tooth may appear yellow. Note that this is different from teeth that appear yellow due to staining.

Along with teeth grinding, acidity is a common cause of enamel erosion. The most prevalent sources of acid are found in the foods and drinks that comprise one’s diet. In healthy, well-cared-for teeth, tooth enamel that has been weakened is rebuilt from calcium found naturally in the saliva. When the teeth are subjected to extreme amounts of acid, however, remineralization proves more difficult.

Common Sources of Acid

Sources of acid that can weaken tooth enamel include:

  • Cola and other carbonated beverages, including diet sodas
  • Yogurt, honey, pickles, and fruits (especially citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits)
  • Wine, fruit juices, and fruit juice cocktails
  • Stomach acids, which may come into contact with the teeth by means of vomiting (bulimia, morning sickness, chronic illness) or acid reflux

Next, we’ll take a closer look at effects of acidity and how to prevent damage to teeth.

About Your Shrewsbury General Dentists

At Modern Dentistry, Todd A. Pizzi, DDS, and Luciana Messina, DDS, are dedicated to providing high-quality cosmetic, restorative, and preventive dentistry services to patients and families in Shrewsbury, Worcester, North and South Grafton, Westborough, Southborough, Northborough, Boylston, Hopkinton, Millbury, and all surrounding communities. To schedule your next appointment, contact our office by calling (508) 842-8838 today.