We have seen a noticeable increase in the amount of enamel acid erosion in our patients over the past few years. Acid erosion thins the tooth’s enamel, making it more susceptible to decay and sensitivity. The erosion can become so severe that your teeth may have visible wear spots known as “cupping lesions,” where the enamel has completely eroded exposing the sensitive dentin layer beneath.
There are some causes such as acid reflux (GERD) and tooth grinding (bruxism), but we feel the majority of acid erosion we have been seeing recently has been due to increased consumption of acidic beverages. Nearly all beverages other than plain water are acidic, including soda, sports drinks, juice, lemonade, tea, etc. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade are actually more acidic than soda! We always recommend our patients drink plain water only throughout the day. Any beverage that is acidic or contains sugar should be limited to meal times only. Brushing immediately after drinking an acidic beverage can actually accelerate the erosion, so we recommend waiting 30 minutes before brushing your teeth to give your saliva time to neutralize the acidity.
Remember, even “sugar free” drinks or flavor drops like Crystal Light, Propel, Mio, etc., may not contain sugar, but they do contain citric acid and can still erode your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel does not grow back. Fluoride can help strengthen it, but it does not regenerate once it is gone. It is best to prevent enamel erosion in the first place. If we notice acid erosion on your child’s teeth we may recommend sealing or restoring the “cupping lesions” to help prevent sensitivity and decay.