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Loss of tooth structure can be caused by
- Erosion (acids in our diet)
- Attrition (grinding of the teeth)
- Abrasion (lifestyle factors/vigorous brushing)
Once the surface enamel is worn, teeth may experience increased sensitivity. This is because the loss of enamel (white layer) exposes the underlying dentine (darker yellow layer) which covers the nerve.
Acidic substances introduced to the mouth through diet can linger and increase acidity in the mouth. Frequent acidic episodes soften tooth structure. pH is a measure of acidity. Water/milk has a neutral pH of 6-7. Anything lower than pH 5.5 is capable of dissolving tooth structure.
Sometimes acids can be introduced into the mouth through stomach acids from reflux or regurgitation. In this case, it is important to consult a GP to address the causes of reflux & treat its symptoms.
Regular vomiting and morning sickness can also introduce stomach acids into the mouth & erode the teeth. It is important to wash away the acid after each episode and rinse the mouth thoroughly with water or mouth wash. DO NOT brush teeth after vomiting.
A common substance with pH below 5.5 includes:
- Energy drinks
- Citrus fruit/beverage
- Tomato sauces
- Carbonated drinks
- Alcohol: wine & beer
Many people involuntarily grind their teeth during the night. It can be due to stress, drug misuse, sleep apnea, an abnormal bite or crooked teeth. Although the cause cannot be controlled, the teeth can be protected by wearing a night guard to cover teeth during the night.