Causes of Tooth Erosion

Tooth decay is mostly caused by bacteria as a result of poor dental hygiene. However, it is different from tooth erosion where tooth decay does not involve bacteria. Tooth erosion is a condition of tooth decay due to the chemical process of acids that dissolve in the hard tissue of the teeth, which is the outermost part of the tooth starting from email, dentine to cementum. This acid is not produced by the bacteria in our mouths, but from internal and external factors, which means that even if your dental hygiene is good, you can still be susceptible to tooth erosion due to one or both of these factors.

Internal Factors Causing Tooth Erosion

Internal factors can come from a number of conditions that can make your stomach acid rise up to your mouth and attack the health of your teeth. Examples of these conditions include GERD, bulimia, alcohol addiction, and pregnancy. Apart from often triggering stomach acid to rise to the mouth, the conditions above also trigger a lot of vomiting. It is the acid content in the vomit of stomach contents that causes the teeth to suffer damage to the outer layer or what is called erosion.  

External Factors Causing Tooth Erosion

External factors are factors that are not caused by our own bodies. Examples of external factors that can cause tooth erosion are the food or drink we consume, lifestyle and environmental factors.

As we know that tooth erosion occurs because acids continuously erode the lining of our teeth, the drinks and food that we consume when they contain a lot of acid will certainly cause our teeth to experience erosion over time. Examples of foods and drinks that contain lots of acid are carbonated drinks, alcohol, packaged juices, citrus fruits, excessive consumption of vitamin C supplements, and sweet-sour-flavored candies.

With the habit of eating and drinking acids like the example above, your lifestyle can also affect the risk of tooth erosion. For example, if you regularly exercise where you will feel dehydrated, then your saliva production will be less and will increase your susceptibility to tooth erosion. This is important for you to always carry enough mineral water when you exercise or do strenuous activities so that you stay well hydrated and of course, don't forget to avoid sour and sweet drinks when you are dehydrated!

Environmental factors such as where you work can also affect your risk of developing tooth erosion. For example, if you work or live in a place that produces a lot of industrial acid into the air, such as ammunition, battery and fertilizer factories, then you should often pay attention to the condition of your teeth. In addition, swimmers who are too often exposed to chlorine in the water in the pool must also pay more attention to the condition of their teeth.

Ref.: American Dental Association, online: