What is it?

Acid wear is the wearing away of healthy teeth by acidic substances that enter your mouth.

There are two main ways people can have acid in their mouths:

  1. Intrinsic acids come from inside your body - things that your body produces that are acidic, such as tummy acids (eg. gastric reflux) or vomiting (eg. during pregnancy)
  2. Extrinsic acids come from outside your body, and are things such as foods, drinks and any medications you may be taking

Both cause the same problems but are treated differently.

How do you get acid wear?

Acid wear is an imbalance between anything acidic attacking your teeth, and saliva, which protects your teeth with calcium, fluoride and other minerals.

If you have too much acid then there is not enough saliva to protect your teeth, and the acid takes a layer off your tooth. Over time, this can result in sensitivity, and the overall teeth wearing down so they get shorter and shorter.

What causes the imbalance between acid and saliva?

Mostly it is habits that we are not aware are doing damage to our teeth, such as:

  1. Snacking – every time you eat something, especially if it is acidic, the pH level drops in your mouth and your teeth are basically being eaten away by acid. It takes about half an hour for enough saliva to be produced to combat this acid wear. If you snack (this includes drinks or anything you put in your mouth), then this half an hour “window of opportunity” (where there is no saliva) happens again and again.
  2. Dehydration – when you are dehydrated, your body has to save water, and it will reduce the amount of saliva you can make. Having anything acidic during these times will be a lot worse, ie. It will take longer than half an hour to wash these bad things away from your teeth. Some examples of this are exercising/playing sport and then drinking a sports drink such as Gatorade/Powerade/Myzone; going for long trips in the car and sipping on a soft drink, or an energy drink eg. Coke, Pepsi, V, Red Bull.
  3. Eating and brushing – any time you eat the acid from the food will have started attacking your teeth, so if you brush your teeth straight after eating, the teeth are chalky and will wear as you brush them. A good example of this is having breakfast and then brushing your teeth, or when you vomit and you go and brush your teeth to take the bad taste away.
  4. Eating/drinking at night – our biological clock tells our bodies we are ready for bed when the sun goes down. This means your body will turn off your saliva production around 8pm, even if you are not going to sleep (even if you are a night shift worker). So anything you eat/drink after this time will sit in mouth for longer than the half an hour during the day. This is made worse if you don’t brush your teeth before bed, where it will just sit in your mouth all night without any saliva to wash it away.
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