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Acid erosion damage to teeth worsened by tooth brushing

Today’s word of the day is PERIMOLYSIS… the chemical or mechanical erosion of teeth caused by acid.

In the medical dictionaries, perimolysis is most often attributed to patients who suffer from bulimia as stomach acids repeatedly come into contact with the backs of the teeth; yet in the day to day observations at our office, perimolysis is more commonly related to dietary acidic beverages.

It’s not surprising that sodas, fruit juices, and fruit drinks contain acid, but so do sports drinks and vitamin waters. Products are considered erosive when the pH drops below 4.0, and are considered extremely erosive when they drop below 3.0. It’s bad enough that these acidic products result in dental erosion, the acidic dissolution of tooth surface, but perimolysis describes the additional damage that tooth brushing or tooth grinding causes to the softened, partially dissolved tooth. Through brushing or grinding of teeth,  the damage to the teeth is accelerated.

Additional risks are present for patients with dry mouth because the natural acid buffering qualities of saliva are absent or lacking. This group of patients can include both geriatric patients, and athletes who are dehydrated.

Not all sources of acid are dietary. In addition to bulimia, acid levels can spike in patients with gastric reflux disease. No matter the source, it is important to recognize the potentially harmful effects of acid and make changes to your diet or health before significant damage occurs to your teeth. After drinking carbonated beverages or fruit juices, we recommend that you first dilute the acidic nature of your mouth with water, and postpone brushing for at least thirty minutes to allow time for your teeth to remineralize.

These are questions and concerns that we review with all of our new patients. We want to not only repair damage to your teeth, but help you to make smart, healthy choices to keep your smile shining.

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