Dental Erosion and Worn Teeth
Dr Huszti discusses the difference between tooth erosion and wear, and how Belle Dental treats patients with these issues.
Firstly, let’s outline the difference between dental tooth erosion and worn teeth. Often the two problems are interrelated, however, for the record:
- Dental erosion is the chemical dissolution of teeth causing the shortening/flattening and PITTING of teeth
- Dental wear is the mechanical grinding down of teeth causing the shortening/flattening of teeth
Dental erosion is becoming ever more common due to the prevalence of a more acidic diet, and increased acidity in water.
This has two effects:
1. The acid in our diet tends to weaken our tooth structure if we get too much of it.
2. The more acidic foods we eat, the more acidic we become inside. The more acidic we become inside, the LESS alkaline our saliva is. The less alkaline our saliva is the less buffering capacity it has and, in effect, the less our saliva is able to protect our teeth from acids.
When considering the following factors, please keep in mind that it is not usually just one factor, but the way all factors combine in an individual to contribute to their problem.
Some other factors in dental tooth erosion and dental wear
As discussed elsewhere on this site, a major factor of dental health is your dietary decisions. The drinks that we consume e.g wine, cola drinks, energy drinks all make a difference to the acidity of your mouth and therefore erosion of your teeth.
Exercise, strangely enough, can be a contributor – simply because of dehydration. Any dehydration can contribute to the concentration of fluids in our body compartment – creating a further imbalance in our pH levels (acidity/alkalinity).
Your body has a diurnal clock i.e. you have a sense of when it is daytime and when it is night time. Your body will naturally tend towards rest/sleep after say, 10pm at night. When your body is preparing for sleep, it commences a ‘shutdown’ program which includes reducing salivary flow (which is not needed during sleep). People who are shift workers still experience this slowing of saliva flow. Additionally in these people, their work (at a time when they would normally be asleep) demands concentration which enhances their demand for sugar (since your brain can only function on glucose) and stimulants e.g. caffeine. This leads shiftworkers to choose drinks such as cola or energy drinks with high acidity and sugar. However, if these are drank while the teeth are not properly protected by healthy saliva flow, this can result in increased decay and erosion.
Many medications contribute to dry mouth – further reducing the buffering capacity of saliva.
Genetics often play a role in medical and dental conditions. Genetics determine the quality and quantity of your saliva. Some people’s saliva is more ‘watery’ and has better buffering capacity and better lubrication, while other people’s saliva is more ‘foamy’ and has less buffering capacity. Every combination in between is possible.
Our approach to tooth erosion and wear
If the teeth require restoration, we do NOT cut away EVEN MORE tooth to restore them as some other dentists would recommend with crowns. We engage in a totally additive technique, which is cost effective and durable. We refer to this technique as Low Biological Cost Dentistry which is our dental philosophy, focusing on maintaining all of the natural tooth structure, or as much as humanly possible during treatment. Find out more about Low Biological Cost Dentistry here.