Patient Education


Acid erosion, also known as dental erosion, is the irreversible loss of tooth structure due to chemical dissolution by acids not of bacterial origin. Dental erosion is common both in children and adults.

There is ignorance of the damaging effects of acid erosion. Particularly with erosion due to
fruit juices, and electrolyte replenishment drinks because they tend to be seen as healthy.

Erosion is found initially in the enamel and, if unchecked, may proceed to the underlying dentine.

The most common cause of erosion is by acidic foods and drinks, and gastric reflux.

Fruit juices such as orange juice (which contain citric acid) and carbonated drinks such as colas. Diet versions are not any better.

Sadly, wine has been shown to erode teeth, with the pH of wine as low as 3.0 – 3.8.

Preventive and management strategies include the following:

  • Treating any underlying medical condition.
  • Changing lifestyle to avoid the food or beverage.
  • Decrease abrasive forces. Use a soft toothbrush and brush gently with only a little toothpaste.
  • Not brushing immediately after consuming acidic food and drink, as teeth will be softened.
  • Rinsing with water is better than brushing after consuming acidic foods and drinks.
  • Drinking through a straw.
  • Using a remineralizing agent, such as applying fluoride gels or varnishes to the teeth.
  • Fluoride mouthrinses and remineralising toothpastes.
  • Drinking milk or using other dairy products.

Other things that worry our dentists

  • Chips –might start out crunchy but once chewed, they turn into a soft mess that can lodge in the grooves of your teeth. That mess is really hard to brush off.
  • Ice –sucking ice is fine, biting it is not. Ice is so hard that biting it can easily chip off enamel or crack your teeth. If you can’t trust yourself to stop at sucking an ice cube, don’t take it into your mouth in the first place.
  • Dried Fruit – fruit is healthy and packed with vitamins and other nutrients. Suck the moisture out of it and you’re left with a sticky product made up of concentrated sugar with bits of fibre that make it stick to the surface of your teeth.
  • Corn– biting into corn on the cob should also be approached with caution if you have crowns or large fillings on your front teeth, as the pressure may damage weakened teeth.
  • Energy drinks – energy drinks along with sports drinks are highly acidic and usually high in sugar. An acid attack that can erode the enamel on your teeth generally lasts for around 20 minutes, longer if you sip it.
  • Muesli bars – look healthy with all those nuts, grains and oats, but the substance holding all that together is generally sugar.
  • Wine – especially sparkling and white wine – contains erosive acid, which can soften the protective enamel on teeth.
  • Alcohol – causes dehydration, which means your mouth will have less saliva that protects your teeth from decay. Heavy alcohol consumption is a big risk factor for oral cancers.
  • Yoghurts –the low-fat varieties often contain a lot of added sugar. The only way to make yoghurt tasty with so much fat taken out of it is to bump up the sugar content.
  • Bottled water –Water that comes out of your tap is almost certainly better and cheaper. Tap water should be the main drink for all of us.
    In most areas of Australia, tap water contains fluoride (a naturally occurring mineral), that strengthens tooth enamel and protects against decay. Tap water is cheap prevention!!