Tooth Enamel Erosion

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Thanks to the rapid change in the food and drinks habits, a large section of Western world population is facing tooth enamel erosion. Indian dentists listed at India Dental Clinic are equally receptive of such patients. The intake of real (natural) fruit juices has been replaced by mass produced juices with various kinds of preservatives and added sugars. Dental erosion can be caused by excessive exposure to acid substances such as fruit juices and fizzy drinks. It is an irreversible condition. Tooth erosion differs from tooth decay. Tooth decay is the progressive loss of tooth enamel by plaque acid attack. Bacteria in the mouth break down sugars into acids which then attack the teeth. The most common teeth affected by dental erosion 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 that are easily chipped away. Teeth that have been eroded may become sensitive, an increasingly normal complaint at dental clinics in India.

The problem of dental erosion is not as wide spread in the developing countries, but it is also increasing at alarming pace. Dental erosion can have long-term consequences for the general and dental health of affected individuals. The source of acid that causes the erosion is either from an intrinsic source from within the body (e.g. acid from the stomach) or from an extrinsic source from outside the body (e.g. acidic foods, drinks or medicines). Intrinsic causes are vomiting and acid reflux (where acid from the stomach escapes up into the mouth) which can be caused by a hiatus hernia, obesity or certain drugs. Fruit juices and soft drinks, together with foods such as rhubarb and citrus fruits, are examples of extrinsic sources of acid. Once the tooth enamel has eroded no amount of remineralising solutions (mouth rinses) or toothpastes can help. Teeth then become susceptible to bacteria attacks that may lead to dental fillings, gum disease and abscesses in which a patient may end up facing expensive dental treatments in India or elsewhere like root canals, dental crowns and bridges, veneers or even teeth implants if extractions were to be adopted.

Dental erosion patients (victims!) to note:

• Acidic foods and drinks limited only to meal times.
• The consumption per day of acidic foods and drinks to be drastically reduced.
• Choose soft drinks which are proven to pose a negligible risk of tooth erosion.
• Limit yourself to foods and drinks that have no added sugar.
• It is good idea to finish meals with a small piece of cheese or a drink of milk, as tooth care diet.
• Do not brush teeth immediately after having acidic foods or drinks.

Children's drinks
A conscious effort should be made to discourage children from taking any colas and sugary drinks. The best drinks for children's teeth are water or milk. Natural fruit juices or squashes may also not be the safest alternatives to water or milk. The drinks claiming to contain no added sugar may still not be safe due to the presence of acids that can cause tooth erosion. An extra care should be taken to dilute squashes in the right proportions. If it can be helped, even natural fruit juices should also be diluted with water to reduce the risk of tooth damage, more particularly from the acids that are still present in many. Cheese is very rich in calcium salts and is a tooth friendly food that helps to protect the tooth surfaces from acid attack. Remember that if a child is genuinely thirsty they will always drink water! Water can be made more exciting by giving it in a special cup, adding ice or using a straw. If comfort feeders and bottles containing sugary drinks are given to young children they can cause severe dental problems like baby bottle tooth decay. Never leave a bottle or feeder cup with a sweetened drink by a child's bed overnight and delay avoidable visit to a dental center.


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Dr. Mohammed Khalid K.

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