How can I protect my children’s teeth?

• The best drinks for children’s teeth are milk or water.

If you do give other drinks then use a straw to help direct the drink away from teeth and minimise damage.

• Natural fruit juices or squashes still contain high levels of fruit acids. Even drinks marked “no added sugar” still contain sugars that can form acids and cause tooth erosion.
• Always dilute squashes correctly. You can also dilute natural fruit juices with water to reduce the risk of tooth damage.
• Encourage your child to take drinks over a short time, rather than constantly sipping as this reduces the time in contact with the teeth.

How can I prevent or control acid erosion?

Regular dental checkups mean that signs of acid erosion can be detected early. We at Chattering Class and Dermal Clinic advise a preventative approach to avoid teeth wear.

If you do have signs of tooth erosion it is important to:

• Limit the consumption of acidic food and drink to meal times.
• Reduce the number of times a day you eat or drink acidic foods and drinks.
• Choose soft drinks which have no added sugar.
• Finish meals with a small piece of cheese or a drink of milk.
• Delay brushing teeth immediately after having acidic foods or drinks as the acid temporarily softens the tooth enamel leading to a greater risk of erosion.

What does tooth erosion look like?

The most commonly affected teeth are the upper front teeth, although all teeth can be affected.
Teeth that have been eroded look glassy, can appear short and have uneven tips.

Are there any other effects of tooth erosion?

Acid erosion causes the loss of enamel from the surface of your tooth. When enamel is removed it exposes delicate dentine which can be sensitive to hot or cold things. If you feel pain when you eat or drink hot or cold things then you may be suffering from sensitive teeth.
Twice daily brushing with sensitive toothpaste can help stop the pain of sensitive teeth.

What causes acid erosion?

Your teeth are at risk every time you eat or drink something acidic such as orange juice or fizzy drinks. There are many factors which influence how your teeth erode such as:
• The pH level or acidity of the food or drinks that you consume
• The total level of acid in the food or drink
• The type of acid that you consume- food and drinks contain many different types of acids
• The structure of your teeth and the saliva in your mouth can even have an effect on how your teeth erode

Listed below are the pH values of some everyday food and drinks. The lower the number the more acidic the product.

Mineral water     pH 7.6
Milk      pH 6.9
Cheddar cheese    pH 5.9
Tomato ketchup     pH3.9
Orange juice      pH3.8
Pickles       pH 3.2
Apple juice      pH 3.0
Cola       pH 2.5
Red wine      pH2.5
Lemon juice      pH2.3

Why is a healthy diet important for my teeth?

As well as helping your body to function, a healthy diet is important for the health of your teeth and gums.
If you eat the wrong things your teeth can be under attack from:
• Acid erosion
• Decay
• Gum disease


What is acid erosion?

Dental erosion can be caused by an acid attack on teeth. This can result in the loss of enamel from the surface of your tooth. Acid erosion can lead to the exposure of dentine, which may cause sensitive teeth. Dental erosion is an irreversible condition, highlighting the importance of prevention.
Tooth erosion is more common than you might think. According to recent research 50% of 4-18 year olds have some erosion.

Teeth Erosion and Wear

Dental erosion — the loss of the protective enamel on teeth — is reportedly on the increase in the UK. The condition occurs when enamel is worn away by acids in the mouth, leaving teeth sensitive, cracked and discoloured. People’s teeth are wearing away at a faster rate than ever, dissolving under a blistering acid attack that they’ve brought on themselves.

One study, for instance, found dental erosion in about 30 percent of a group of 900 middle school students across the country. Results, published in 2008 in the Dental Tribune, confirmed the suspicions many dentists had harboured. In a survey of dentists taken before the study, nearly half said they thought tooth erosion was on the rise.
Why is this happening? Experts blame what people are drinking and how they are drinking it, for the most part.
Soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit juices and teas all contain high amounts of acid - When we’re talking about erosion, it’s clearly the acid content that’s causing it. In soft drinks, especially in cola soft drinks, one of the main flavouring agents is phosphoric acid. The sugar in most of those drinks also plays a role. When bacterial plaque on the teeth absorbs sugar from drinks and foods, it excretes an acid that eats away at tooth enamel.
People often make the situation worse by savouring juices and soft drinks. Holding them in the mouth to enjoy the flavour or the fizzing increases exposure to the acids and sugars in the drinks. You cause more damage when you drink a large amount and hold it in your mouth to savour the flavour. Medications such as aspirin can cause erosion, as can conditions such as acid reflux disease or eating disorders associated with chronic vomiting, which expose the teeth to gastric acid.
Dental erosion also is increasing because people are not getting enough fluoride. Fluoride helps strengthen the enamel. Erosion is an attack on the enamel. You have something that’s going to protect it and strengthen it when it’s under attack We recommend that people who aren’t drinking public water use a fluoridated toothpaste and mouth rinse. People who are worried about tooth erosion should talk about it with their dentist during one of the two visits a year they should be making to the dentist.