Erosion and Sensitivity

Normal molar.

Acid erosion in adolescent.

We are seeing an increased amount of sensitivity and erosion of teeth due to far higher levels of acid both from food/drink and gastric reflux.

Everybody seems to be drinking much higher levels of acids in the form of juices, sports drinks, soft drinks, wines and even some herbal teas. Soft drinks and juices can be a major problem in kids. We see teeth that have lost more than 50% of their structure in teenagers. It isn't surprising when you consider that some cola or citrus style soft drinks (including "diet" types) have an acid level not far from car battery acid !!!! 

There is also a recent upsurge of interest in the health benefits of a little lemon juice or apple cider vinegar in water to start the day.  We need to be careful to try to reduce the erosion possible with this practice.

  1. Consider drinking this all at once.
  2. Use a straw to reduce the amount of tooth surface exposure.
  3. Consider following with a meal or sugar free chewing gum or a small piece of cheese.

It is important to remember that it is the "frequency" of exposure,  that is the number of times a day the teeth are washed in "acid", that is the key issue. Sipping at frequent intervals does the most damage.

We won't go to the extent of recommending "sculling" on a public website :-). but try to avoid repeated acid liquid "exposures" or avoid the habit of "swishing". Try also rinsing with water immediately afterwards.

Even the use of Tooth Mousse  or Recaldent chewing gum before and during a session is recommended. (This has been a "teeth saver" for some of our wine taster and pineapple farmer patients.)

Beware Acidic drinks ... Soft drinks, Sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices.  Their low pH (see below) means they can dissolve enamel and frequent consumption can lead to creating white demineralised scars around the braces that will never go away.

pH is a measure of the acidity of substances.  The normal pH of saliva is about 7.  When the pH goes below 5.5 teeth begin to dissolve. 

The pH of some common liquids are:

  • Car battery acid .....2

  • Black cola soft drink... can drop to 2.5

  • Common soft drink....2.7 to 3.5

  • Sports energy drinks...3 to 4

  • Apple Juice......3.4

  • Orange Juice....3.5

  • Tap water....6.0

  • Milk.....6.9

Another problem with sensitivity can be due to incorrect brushing techniques causing "toothbrush abrasion".  Our hygienists are especially trained to provide answers for this problem.

One extra note of caution....whatever you do, DON'T brush your teeth for at least 20 minutes after exposure to these juices, softdrinks etc...... the enamel is in a softened state and can be "brushed away"more easily. (So now you've heard it all ....dentists recommending caution about brushing your teeth!!!)