wellbeing DR DAVID CULLEN | DENTIST | CASEY DENTISTS
PROACTIVE DENTAL CARE Looking after your teeth is more than brushing and flossing – protecting them from acid erosion is vital too.
“MOST PEOPLE GET THE IDEA OF ‘PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE’ BUT WHAT DOES RESEARCH TELL US ABOUT PREVENTION?”
People are now more aware of trying to prevent problems. Patients tell me that they brush their teeth twice a day and floss, but they want to know more about protecting their teeth and their children’s teeth too. Acid erosion is a form of tooth wear. It occurs when there is too much acid in the mouth and minerals from the teeth are lost faster than they are replaced. The acids can come from what we put in our mouths (such as acidic drinks and foods) or from the acids in our stomach. If acid erosion is not controlled, the teeth appear prematurely shorter, more brittle and more easily worn as the protective enamel coat becomes thinner. As the white enamel gets thinner the yellow dentine layer can show through. This affects the natural lustre of the teeth. The edge of the incisors can also look more translucent (glass-like) and brittle. Some people notice that they get sensitivity to hot, cold and sweet foods. This is due to the dentine being exposed as the protective enamel has been eroded. Most people get the idea of ‘prevention is better than cure’ but what does research tell us about prevention? Based on the work of Lussi and Helwig (1999) and Touyz (2006), the following are suggestions for acid erosion prevention: • Reduce the number of acid exposure times per day. • Drink less juice/energy drinks; dilute with water or better still just drink water. • Drink beverages as part of a meal; avoid acidic drinks before sleep. • Choose non-acid drinks or liquids saturated with calcium, like milk.
• Don’t swish before swallowing; use a straw; don’t sip repeatedly. • Don’t brush before an erosive challenge as the dental pellicle provides some protection. • Avoid brushing immediately after an acid-erosive challenge like an acid drink or vomiting. • Never chew gum containing sugar after an acid drink or food. Consider a sugar-free gum to help stimulate acidbuffering saliva after meals. • Use a soft toothbrush with low abrasivity and a nonabrasive toothpaste with fluoride. • Have regular dental check-ups to help detect early signs of erosion. • Ensure oral hygiene products and medicines are not acidulated. • Swirl, rinse and swish a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste or Tooth Mousse after an acidic drink. • Consider using Tooth Mousse after brushing and flossing to enhance remineralising of enamel. • People with stomach acid reflux /Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disorder (GORD) should see their general medical practitioner to help sort the cause of the problem, which affects 10-20 per cent of people in Australia. • Morning sickness, bulimia, eating disorders and high exposure to chlorinated swimming pools can also contribute to acid erosion. If you suspect you have signs or symptoms of dental erosion or would like more information, contact your dental professional for an appointment to discuss your options.
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DUO MAGAZINE JUNE 2013 duomagazine.com.au 71
Published on May 31, 2013
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