Dental Erosion: Causes And Prevention

Acids can lead to dental erosion, which most typically affects the tooth’s enamel surface. Normally, the enamel layer protects teeth from sensitivity. But when it starts wearing off, the dentin becomes exposed, which in turn causes tooth sensitivity to cold, hot, and often, acidic foods and drinks. This dental condition might lead to tooth pain.

Image illustrating a dental examination for dental erosion and other diseases.

What Is Dental Erosion?

As above mentioned, dental erosion happens whenever the acids start dissolving away part of the enamel layer of the teeth. Dental erosion is not caused by bacteria, different from tooth decay. Actually, it is generally caused by medicine, acid reflux, acidic foods and drinks, or excessive vomiting.

Anybody and everybody can experience dental erosion, no matter the age. However, elderly people with dry mouths and low producing levels of saliva (in order to neutralize and flush out acids), are more at risk. 

What Are The Symptoms And Complications Of Dental Erosion?

You must know that eroded teeth can have quite sharp edges, they can have a high sensitivity to cold, hot, acidic, or sugary ingredients and ultimately, they can be pitied, chalky, and might even change color, usually turning yellow.

The dissolvent of tooth enamel happens progressively, exposing slowly the much softer, butter-colored layer underneath the surface. And dental erosion multiplies the risks of tooth decay and other tooth issues.

Dental Erosion Causes

Numerous factors can either be a contribution or the sole cause of dental erosion. Below we have compiled a list of some of the causes of enamel erosion in teeth:

Image illustrating acidic foods and drinks, a possible cause for dental erosion.

High Consumption Of Acid Drinks And Foods

If you are among those people who have a very high intake of acid or consume a diet rich in acids, it is a fact that dental erosion is most likely ruining your teeth. Any recurrent consumption of soft drinks like soda, wine, vinegar, energy drinks, and caffeine-containing beverages can also cause dental erosion.

Furthermore, citrus fruits, including limes, lemons, and oranges are fruits that harm the enamel, in case they are consumed in high amounts, particularly with direct tooth contact. Another thing to bear in mind is that even chewing on vitamin tablets such as vitamin C or candies that contain sugar or are fruit-flavored can lead to tooth problems.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, namely GERD, is the acid reflux from the stomach back to the esophagus or even the mouth. During this digestive disorder, the continuous flow back of acids leads to burns or pain in the chest, otherwise known as heartburn. The acid refluxed back into the mouth stocks behind the teeth on the posterior and palatal surfaces of the front teeth. Thus, dental erosion begins.

Throwing up is additionally straight-up associated with specific gastrointestinal disorders that erode the enamel of teeth. Throughout the initial weeks of pregnancy, throwing up is quite common. Such pregnancy-induced throwing up affects dental health due to the stomach acid being thrown up and having contact with teeth, leading to dental erosion.

The recurrent throwing up and acid-containing fluids from the stomach will cause a darkened and yellowish surface of the teeth, which is, of course, an indication of enamel erosion.

Image illustrating saliva disorders, a possible cause for dental erosion.

Saliva Disorders

Though many people are well aware of the fact that saliva washes away food particles, fights against acids in the mouth, and has a ton of other advantages, they might not know about the most crucial function of saliva: teeth remineralization.

Thanks to bathing the teeth in saliva, or better say, to the calcium-containing fluid in saliva, saliva is able to remineralize the enamel on your teeth.

Whenever there is a low amount of saliva because of dry mouth (xerostomia), aging, diseases, syndromes, or medications, the mouth isn’t capable of tolerating the high acidity, so as a result, the tooth enamel is harmed and dental erosion begins.

Eating Disorders

Some specific gastrointestinal conditions and diseases can lead to severe types of eating disorders. For instance, anorexia and bulimia nervosa (two of the most common eating disorders) imply uncontrolled episodes of consuming huge amounts of food, known as binging. This doesn’t necessarily affect the teeth, however, what comes next, does. Binging is followed by purging episodes, during which people do self-induced vomiting or even use laxatives to empty their stomachs.

Such recurrence-harming activities in eating and throwing up lead to dental erosion and make the enamel vulnerable to a high level of stomach acid contact on teeth. People experiencing anorexia and bulimia are worried about gaining weight and they do not have a correct perception of their body images. Both anorexia and bulimia have psychiatric origins, which leads to extremely serious health risks.

Image illustrating eating disorders, a possible cause for dental erosion.

Medical Conditions That Cause Dental Erosion

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder, which can lead to dental erosion. Patients who induce vomiting to lose weight can harm their teeth in the process. Vomit contains very high levels of stomach acids, which can harm tooth enamel. On the other hand, gastro-oesophageal reflux, a medical condition during which stomach acids come up into the mouth, can lead to the same damage as bulimia. People who consume a lot of alcohol and suffer from esophageal issues or hiatus hernia might also throw up and experience dental erosion, causing in turn, tooth sensitivity.

How Can Diet Prevent Dental Erosion?

Needless to say, acidic foods and drinks can lead to dental erosion. As a matter of fact, anything that has a pH lower than 5.5 (meaning, is acidic) may damage the teeth. Carbonated and fizzy drinks or sodas can also lead to dental erosion. You must bear in mind that even fizzy waters with flavors or diet brands can have an impact on the tooth’s surface, as well. Fruits (citrus ones, in particular) and fruit juices normally contain natural acids, which might damage the teeth, even more so if they are consumed in high amounts. In reference to that, sports drinks contain specific ingredients that can lead to dental erosion and sometimes, even tooth decay. If you are looking to prevent dental erosion, the best alternative would be drinking plain water or milk, since milk can neutralize the acidic environment in the mouth.

Image illustrating a woman brushing her teeth properly.

Tips To Prevent Dental Erosion

There are certain actions that can be taken in order to prevent dental erosion such as trying to avoid keeping acidic or sugary foods or drinks in the mouth for a long while. Another tip would be to consume cheese or milk after eating acidic foods, seeing as they can neutralize the acid level in the mouth- or you could always rinse after eating. Make sure to finish your meal with sugar-free chewing gum, which will affect the saliva flow by increasing it and will assist in canceling all the acids in the mouth. Brushing your teeth with a small toothbrush with soft or medium-soft bristles can also be helpful- keep in mind to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. On the subject of brushing, brushing your teeth prior to going to bed and at least one time throughout the day is essential. Our last recommendation would be to include fluoridated mouthwash in your routine. 


Dental erosion doesn’t always require treatment. The problem can be prevented or stopped altogether with routine check-ups and by adhering to your dentist’s instructions. In the event that the tooth sensitivity reaches a severe degree, and the tooth needs treatment, a bonding procedure for the recreation of the enamel layer might be necessary. In more severe cases, the simple solution might be veneers.

Solution For Dental Erosion

Regrettably, dental erosion lasts for life. After the food acids erode the outer layer of the tooth, they can be replaced with fillings or dental crowns. In more extreme cases, the tooth needs to be removed. Thus, to avoid the loss of the tooth by identifying the dental erosion early, you will have to schedule a visit with your local dentist regularly.

If you are in search of a local dentist in Tirana, Albania, make sure to contact Dr. Roland Zhuka to set an appointment for a complete dental examination and to avoid dental erosion.

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