Dental Erosion Risk Factors in Bullet Points

pexels-photo-247685.png

Eating fruits and berries frequently will put you at risk of dental erosion.

There has been so much discussion about dental erosion recently that I wanted to gather all the latest information in one post. I have been in dental profession for over 20 years and even I still learn new things about dental erosion. So read this post to see if you knew these things as well.

I will update this post every time I learn something new that will cause dental erosion. I would be grateful if you could collaborate by commenting this post in case I have missed some risk factors.

The Risk Factors

  • diet that does not contain dairy products
  • vegetarian diet even if dairy products are used
  • consumption of acidic beverages, especially when consumed between the meals (including all juices, sugar-free drinks, sparkling water, any drink with flavouring, alcohol and bubbles. As an example the pH of Coca-Cola is 2,5 = highly acidic)
  • vitamin supplements in a form of a drink (including fizzy tablets)
  • use of sport drinks
  • dehydration
  • dehydration + sport drinks = increased risk
  • drinking tea apart from green tea and black tea
  • consumption of erosive foods, increased risk if consuming erosive foods/drinks over 3 times per day (e.g. fruits, berries, vinegar, pickled food, herbal tea, cola, sparkling water, juice, flavoured water)
  • eating sour candy
  • frequent consumption of alcohol
  • use of smokeless tobacco
  • frequent use of salad dressings
  • gastro-esophagel reflux disease (GERD)
  • gastro-esophagel reflux disease combined with a use of a mouth guard (read this to find out how to protect your teeth if you use mouth guard)
  • eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia)
  • frequent vomiting (e.g. when pregnant)
  • eating fruits between the meals (when fruits are eaten as a part of a meal = no risk)
  • eating indian food frequently (indian spices, especially panipuri masala, are acidic)
  • swishing acidic drink in mouth before swallowing
  • sipping an acidic drink (e.g. herbal tea, cola, sparkling water, juice, flavoured water) over a long period of time
  • brushing teeth after eating
  • brushing teeth after drinking acidic drinks like wine, juice, sparkling water
  • dry mouth (saliva protects the teeth, neutralises the acids)
  • drinking herbal tea very hot (high temperature increases the erosive potential of a drink)
  • consumption of pickled foods
  • medication that dry the mouth as a side-effect (e.g. antihistamines, antidepressants)
  • use of oral moisturizers with pH below 6.7 (see a table pH levels of commonly used oral moisturizers and dry mouth treatment products here)
  • acidic mouthwashes e.g. Listerine Total Care rinse pH = 3.57
  • anti-tartar toothpastes that has chelating agents – chelators bind or trap other chemicals such as calcium = they effectively remove calcium also from teeth.
  • use of non-fluoride toothpaste
  • liquid breakfast (including smoothies). There’s no saliva in mouth in the morning = nothing to neutralise acids. Chewable breakfast would make the saliva flow again after sleeping.
  • certain illnesses that affect the saliva flow (e.g. Sjögren’s syndrome)
  • drinking fruit juices instead of eating the real fruit – fruit juice has been proven to cause erosion 10 times more than the same fruit chewed.
  • chewing gum with liquid center including sugar-free chewing gums (also xylitol). The liquid inside the chewing gum is acidic.
  • sugar-free candy, especially fruit-flavoured ones (they contain high levels of food acid, particularly citric and phosphoric acid)
  • dry mouth + sugar-free fruit-flavoured candy to stimulate saliva flow = increased risk of erosion
  • asthma medication, especially if brushing after corticosteroids (e.g. Flixotide evohaler)

Edit 27.1.2019

You might also like:

Dental Erosion and Tea

How Diet Affects Your Teeth

GC Tooth Mousse Review and Advice for Use

Advertisements

Dental Erosion and Tea

Seven_Sisters_Panorama,_East_Sussex,_England_-_May_2009.jpg

By Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6739706

As a dental professional I worry about growing phenomenon of dental erosion on patients teeth. Yesterday I saw 6 patients of which 5 of them had erosion on their teeth ranging from mild to very severe. There is not necessarily difference between different age groups any more. Dental erosion affects all the age groups and often it is due to ignorance – not knowing that something we do everyday basis is damaging our teeth. And damaging for good. With this post I hope to raise awareness of one very common habit many of us have that could damage the enamel of the tooth. That is drinking tea.

What is Erosion?

People often know what erosion means when it comes to for example coastal erosion (hence the photo of beautiful Seven Sisters, UK). But when I mention the word erosion to the patient, they often look perplexed.

Dental erosion is one type of tooth wear where tooth looses its structure due to chemical dissolution by acids. These erosive acids enter the mouth through two routes – from outside (food, drinks, medicine, supplements) or from inside of the individual (stomach acid due to gastric reflux or bulimia). The loss of the tooth structure is permanent. It won’t grow back. So the prevention of the dental erosion is the most important thing to do.

With this post I will not go into all the things that cause dental erosion as I have written it in my previous post How Diet Affects Your Teeth? But what I didn’t write on that post was something I didn’t know back then. You see, this profession is constant learning as long as you are receptive. I knew that fruit teas are acidic but what I did not know is that only two types of teas are safe to drink when it comes to tooth wear.

pH of Different Teas

There are plenty of studies about the pH levels of different teas. Just google words erosive potential of teas. When I did this I also run into some worrying sites like this one where incomplete advice is given to people. The effects on teeth is completely left out when talking about alkaline diet even though the mouth is one important part of your overall health.

What people following alkaline diet are thinking is that foods consumed will become alkaline in your body. But remember when acidic foods (lemon, lime, berries, apples etc) or drinks (e.g. herbal and fruity teas, carbonated drinks, juices) enter the mouth, they stay acidic. Lets take the lemon as an example. In the alkaline diet’s pH chart they state that lemon is very alkaline (pH 10). But when entering mouth, it is highly acidic (pH 2.0)

The same site advises people to drink hibiscus tea as alkaline tea. A revelation, also hibiscus is not alkaline when entering mouth. It is in fact the most acidic tea there can be (pH level <3.0). Any drink with pH level below 5,5 will cause erosion on enamel if consumed regularly.

It worries me that people actually follow these constricted advices blindly. I don’t blame them. Many people are clueless when it comes to matters of health. Everyone following alkaline diet should read this article to determine if there are enough health benefits of the alkaline diet to risk the health of the teeth. The only downfall of this article is that it is not writing about health risks of alkaline diet.

Erosion-Enhancers

The herbal and fruity teas are acidic but certain factors can make them even more erosive. These are exposure time and temperature of the drink.

Nowadays people carry their drinks with them in a travel mugs enabling them to sip it during e.g. commuting and perhaps some of it is left for them to drink when they reach their desk. If the drink is acidic tea it means prolonged exposure to acids and if repeated often, it will result in tooth erosion. If there is sugar or honey added to the drink it will be even more erosive and also cariogenic.

Also the hotter the drink is the more erosive it is. And these travel mugs keep the drink warm for a long period of time.

Warning Signs of Erosion

The first sign of dental erosion is normally sensitivity to cold or pressure (when brushing the teeth or touching the surface of the tooth with your finger nail. The latter us professional do not encourage to do). This should raise an alarm in your mind and you should go through your diet to find out if you are consuming something regularly that is too acidic to your teeth. You will find help from my post How Diet Affects Your Teeth. Remember that the best drink teeth-wise between the meals is tap water because it is alkaline.

Another sign of tooth wear is change in tooth colour. As the enamel gets permanently thinner, the yellower tooth structure the dentin under the enamel will start to show through. Your teeth will look yellower than before and no whitening done will change that as the whitening substance is not able to reach the dentin.

When the shape of your tooth is changing, the erosion is already severe. Thinning enamel will easily chip off making your teeth look less attractive than they used to be. Often people feel embarrassed about their teeth at this point.

So my message to you all is to prevent dental erosion! Think what you put in your mouth and how often you do that. Occasional acidic drink will not make any difference but when consumed often, it will cause problems.

Is Any Tea Safe to Drink?

Yes! The pH level of green tea and black tea are on the safe side. Black tea also contains fluoride which helps to prevent tooth erosion. But remember, they are only safe if no sugar (including honey) or lemon is added. Sugar will cause the pH level of the saliva to drop below 5,5 and lemon is very acidic like I mentioned already above.

Here are some studies for further reading

Erosive potential of herbal teas

International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR): Dental Erosion and Tea: A Systematic Review

BBC: “Sipping acidic fruit teas can wear away teeth, says study”

You might also like

Eeny Meeny Miny Moe – Which Type of Tooth Wear?

How Diet Affects Your Teeth

RDA Value in Toothpastes – Any Relevance?

20180223_123729

Gum & Enamel Repair Original Toothpaste

I promised in my post Oral-B Gum & Enamel Repair Original Toothpaste Review that if I find out the RDA level of this toothpaste I will announce it. Well I found it out recently, sort of. And this occurrence sort of made me annoyed once again. So I’m going to pour it out now.

I saw a representative from Oral-b recently. She was going to ask about our experiences of the Gum & Enamel Repair Original Toothpaste. I told mine and to my pleasant surprise she suggested we would fill an adverse reaction report. So we did. She said she had never heard anyone’s tongue getting numb from their toothpaste.

My most important question to ask from the rep was the magic RDA value of this toothpaste. I was dreading it as the reps are quite sensitive about the whole subject of RDA value. They know that it is thought widely amongst the dental professionals that the higher the RDA value is the more abrasive it the toothpaste is. So the manufacturers want to keep it a secret.

What Is RDA?

To explain it very simple way, the RDA is the grittiness of the toothpaste. If it is too high, it can cause tooth wear. But to explain RDA more elegantly, here is a quote by ADA (American Dental Association):

To help quantify the abrasivity of dentifrices, the ADA along with various academic, industry and government agencies established a standardized scale called Relative Dentin Abrasivity (RDA). This scale assigns dentifrices an abrasivity value, relative to a standard reference abrasive that is arbitrarily given an RDA value of 100.

All dentifrices at or below 2.5 times the reference value, or 250 RDA, are considered safe and effective. In fact, clinical evidence supports that lifetime use of proper brushing technique with a toothbrush and toothpaste at an RDA of 250 or less produces limited wear to dentin and virtually no wear to enamel.

ADA (American Dental Association)

So what this quote is saying is that most of the toothpastes are safe. Mind you, FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) has set the safe limit of RDA to 200. But internationally it is the RDA 250 or below that is recognised as safe to use. I did a research and found out that many dental sites (both english and my native language) state that the highest safe RDA level has been set too high. It should be 100 or less.

Here is a link to one of the dental sites with a very good chart about abrasiveness levels in different toothpastes.

The Big Question

Ok, back to seeing the rep. I gathered all my courage and asked the big question.

Err, what is the RDA level of this toothpaste?

Oh boy, he looks annoyed. He asks if he has ever shown us a video about RDA. No, he hasn’t. He took his tablet out and put the video rolling. It was about RDA level of the toothpaste made by Oral-b. In the video they were demonstrating that it doesn’t matter what the RDA level is as long as it is below 250.

He looked victorious when the video ended. I asked again.

So, what is the RDA level of this toothpaste?

He said with a sigh that the RDA level of the Gum & Enamel Repair Original Toothpaste is somewhere between 100-200.  So this is what I meant when I found out the RDA level of this toothpaste, sort of.

Conclusion

It is good to remember that not only the toothpaste’s RDA level determines how much you will get tooth wear. If you brush your teeth straight after breakfast, with a hard toothbrush and with too vigorous technique (applying too much pressure), it has very little meaning what the RDA level of the toothpaste is.

You might be interested in these posts as well:

Testing Oral-b Smart Phone Holder, Take 1
Testing Oral-b Smart Phone Holder, Take 2
Oral-B Gum & Enamel Repair Original Toothpaste Review