The striking effect of foods on tooth erosion

Pointing out that tooth erosion is increasing in Türkiye and around the world, Prof. Dr. Esra Can, President of the Turkish Society of Restorative Dentistry stated that tooth erosion is between 30 percent and 70 percent in the children and young people group, and between 25 percent and 45 percent in the adult group. Prof. Dr. Can said, “When acidic food and drinks are consumed more than 3 times a day, the risk of tooth erosion increases 37 times.”

On the occasion of November 22 Dentists’ Day and Oral and Dental Health Week, Prof. Dr. Esra Can, President of the Turkish Society of Restorative Dentistry gave information about dental erosion, which is one of the factors that threaten the dental health of many people from all age groups in recent years.

“The first symptom is sensitivity in the teeth”

Prof. Dr. Esra Can said, “We can define dental erosion as the irreversible and progressive loss of material in the primary and permanent teeth, which occurs due to chemical factors. The important factor in erosion is chemical; there is no microorganism effect as in caries.” Prof. stated that the first thing that occurs in tooth erosion is sensitivity. Dr. Can said, “Subsequently, aesthetic problems occur due to dulling and discoloration of the teeth, and as it progresses, pitting on the cutting edges of the teeth, wear and deformation of the teeth. If protective measures are not taken, progressive erosion will later cause functional problems. Erosion is a pathological wear that is progressive.”

“It is more common in children and young people.”

Recording that tooth erosion is more common in children and young people, Prof. Dr. Can said, “Recent studies show that the frequency of tooth erosion is increasing in Türkiye and the world. The frequency of tooth erosion is between 30% and 70% in children and adolescents, and between 25% and 45% in adults. This actually gives us very important information. Our children and young people are exposed to more erosion than us, and this shows that they will encounter more erosion-related dental problems in adulthood.”

“Attention children and vegans”

Prof. Dr. Esra Can gives the following information about the causes of tooth erosion, “Erosion is a pathological problem resulting from the combination of many factors… Increased consumption of fruits and fruit juices due to healthy eating habits and a vegan diet can be considered among the causes of erosion. Children and young people are exposed to erosion because they drink too much fizzy drinks, and athletes frequently consume energy drinks. Fruit sodas and the medications we use can also cause erosion. For example, vitamin C chewable tablets, sprays used by asthma patients, and effervescent drugs cause erosion. Any factor that causes a decrease in saliva, as well as antihypertensive and antidepressant medications, can cause erosion. We can see erosion quite frequently in patients receiving radiotherapy in the head and neck area. In addition, reflux, eating disorders with vomiting and chronic alcoholism can also appear as factors that cause erosion caused by the same disease.”

“Tooth erosion occurs more in some professions.”

Emphasizing that the susceptibility to erosion increases in some professional groups, Prof. Dr. Esra Can said, “For example, professional athletes. They drink too much energy drinks, and these acidic drinks cause erosion. The same goes for professional swimmers. The substances used to disinfect pools can make the water acidic, which can lead to erosion of swimmers’ front teeth. There is another occupational group that is exposed to erosion, they are also laboratory workers… When they draw acids with a pipette, their teeth are directly exposed to acids.”

“Do not consume these between meals”

Stating that it is possible to prevent tooth erosion both individually and through the dentist, Prof. Dr. Can said:

“First, as individuals, we need to prevent erosion from occurring. For example, we can reduce the frequency of acidic foods and drinks. When we consume acidic food and drinks more than 3 times a day, the risk of erosion increases 37 times, this rate is so high. We can limit these drinks and foods to meals, because our salivation increases during meals and thus the erosion factor is eliminated. Since our salivation is low between meals, we should not consume acidic foods and drinks. Instead of swishing acidic drinks in our mouth, we should swallow them quickly or drink them through a straw, and rinse our mouth with water or drink water after drinking. We should not eat fruit, especially before going to bed at night. We should not brush our teeth immediately after acidic foods. We should drink acidic drinks by cooling them. We should brush our teeth not immediately after meals, but after 30 minutes. After brushing the teeth, we should not consume fruits, fruit juices, fruit sodas and carbonated drinks that will cause erosion on clean tooth surfaces. Especially when children eat fruits by sucking, it increases erosion. We should encourage them to eat by biting. If there is erosion, dulling and discoloration on the teeth, we can do things to neutralize the oral environment between meals to prevent this situation. For example, we can drink water or eat milk and cheese products. If individuals with erosion on their teeth use whitening toothpaste to lighten the tooth discoloration and dark color in their mouth, it will further erode the enamel surface, which has already been softened by chemical effects, and cause more material loss.”

“We apply gels and varnishes containing high concentrations of fluoride.”

“After active erosion is diagnosed, the causative factor of the erosion must first be determined by the dentist,” said Prof. Dr. Esra Can continued her words as follows:

“After finding the factor and creating a behavioral change in the patient, we, as dentists, apply gels and varnishes containing high concentration fluoride to the softened enamel and dentin surfaces. While this hardens that area, it also increases the resistance of that area against possible acid attacks. We advise patients to use high-concentration fluoride toothpaste at home to help us, and in the presence of active erosion, we recommend that they use a soft toothbrush, high-concentration fluoride, as well as toothpastes and creams containing ingredients such as potassium nitrate and amorphous calcium phosphate.”

“We need to move on to restorative procedures.”

Indicating that dental erosion can reach very advanced levels, Prof. Dr. Can said, “After the enamel is worn away and the dentin is exposed, erosion progresses very rapidly. In this case, we can no longer protect our patients with only preventive procedures and we need to switch to restorative procedures. In advanced dental erosion, cup-shaped wear occurs on the chewing surfaces of the teeth, and as these progress further, the vertical dimension of the patient and the height of the lower part of the face decrease. The patient cannot perform the chewing function effectively due to sensitivity and the inability to crush food sufficiently.”


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