Tooth Erosion what is it?

Tooth erosion is where acid wears away the enamel of the tooth.  This is the outer layer and the hardest tissue which is found in the human body.

Enamel covers the crown which is the section of the tooth visible from the outside of the gums.  Dentine, on the other hand, is the tooth colour, either white, off-white or yellow.  The enamel protects the tooth from daily wear and tear, for example biting, grinding and crunching. Even though the enamel is hard, it can still crack or chip. Unfortunately unlike a bone in the body, if tooth chips or breaks it cannot repair itself.  This is due to the fact that enamel has no living cells, therefore the body cannot repair this.

The danger of tooth erosion

As the enamel erodes, the tooth becomes more susceptible to decay setting in. Cavities in the early stages may not cause many problems, as the decay gets worse and penetrates on the tooth, it can start to affect the nerve.  In turn, this can result in a very painful experience for patients, in some cases abscesses and infections.

Signs to look out for with tooth erosion

During the early signs of tooth erosion, you may experience a twinge of pain whilst eating certain foods or when drinking hot or cold food and drinks.  The teeth can also appear yellow as the enamel starts to erode and the dentine becomes more exposed.  Another sign is the edges of the tooth can become rough and uneven as the enamel starts to erode. During the later stages of enamel erosion, the teeth can become very sensitive to temperatures and sweets.

Causes of enamel erosion

  • Soft drinks with high levels of phosphoric and citric acid
  • Fruit drinks
  • Dry mouth
  • High sugar diets
  • Acid reflux
  • Wear and tear
  • Grinding of the teeth from stress
  • Health conditions such as bulimia nervosa


How can we try and avoid enamel erosion?

  • Reducing the amount of acidic food and drinks
  • Avoiding certain foods and drinks which can cause erosion
  • Drinking through a straw to help reduce the contact between acidic fluids and the teeth.
  • Avoid abrasive brushing, do not brush immediately after food and drink as the tooth surface is sorter.  Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing, use an electric toothbrush with a soft bristle.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste.


Tooth erosion is just one of the conditions we see frequently in patients, it’s always best to try and prevent the issues rather than leaving it too late.

Finally, if you have any further concerns, please contact our dental hygienist, you will find all our details on the contact us page.

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