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How to prevent and treat tooth erosion

What is tooth erosion?

Tooth erosion is the loss of enamel and dentine from your teeth. Enamel is the protective coating on the surface of your teeth which covers the more sensitive dentine layer underneath.

When the enamel erodes, the dentine becomes exposed which can result in sensitivity.

How do I know if I have tooth erosion?

If you have dental erosion, your teeth may look darker and yellower (because dentine is this colour). Your teeth may become more sensitivity and, if your enamel breaks down, you’re at increased risk of tooth decay.

If the erosion is quite severe, your teeth may begin to look smaller and worn. If you think you may have tooth erosion, speak to your dentist.

What causes tooth erosion?

Tooth erosion happens when acid attacks the surfaces of your teeth. How acidic something is can be measured by its pH value. Anything that has a pH value lower than 5.5 is acidic and can harm your teeth.

Unlike tooth decay, erosion is nothing to do with plaque (the thin, sticky film that sometimes coats your teeth and contains bacteria). The acids that harm your teeth come directly from acidic foods and drinks. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Fruit juices
  • Smoothies
  • Diet and non-diet fizzy drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Fizzy alcopops
  • Flavoured fizzy water (if you drink a lot of it)
  • Crisps
  • Vinegary sauces, such as ketchup and brown sauce
Dentist speaking to a patient

Please note: this photo was taken before the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing rules.



Some health conditions that are linked to vomiting (for example, bulimia nervosa, acid reflux and hiatus hernia) can also lead to erosion.

This is because vomit is very acidic and can damage your tooth enamel.

Speak to your dentist if you have any questions about tooth erosion or if you suffer from one of these conditions. They’ll be able to give you further advice.

How can I prevent dental erosion?

There are several measures you can take to help reduce erosion and the effects it has on your teeth. Here are some tips to help:

  • Limit acidic food and drinks to meal times – don’t snack on acidic food and drinks throughout the day
  • Finish meals with cheese or milk, which neutralise acids in the mouth
  • Chew sugar-free gum after eating to help stimulate the production of saliva between meals
  • Have non-acidic drinks, such as very diluted sugar-free squash, still water or milk
  • Drink acidic drinks through a straw and don’t swish them round your mouth
  • When it comes to snacks, opt for vegetables, nuts or cheese
  • If you’ve eaten or drunk anything acidic, wait an hour before cleaning your teeth as brushing straight after could cause more damage

If you have any questions, or would like more information about dental erosion, speak to your dentist.

How is tooth erosion treated?

First of all, your dentist will try to understand why you have erosion and how it has impacted your mouth. They’ll then advise steps to prevent further damage. This may be dietary changes or seeing a GP, if the erosion is from diet or underlying medical conditions.

Once they’ve addressed the cause, your dentist can advise treatment to rebuild what has been lost. This may be using fillings or dental crowns. If several teeth have been lost, your dentist may suggest replacing them with a solution such as dental implants or dentures.

Looking for a dentist to help you with sensitive teeth?

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Many images and videos used throughout our website were taken before the COVID-19 outbreak and therefore do not represent COVID best practices.

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Bupa Dental Care is a trading name of Oasis Dental Care Limited. Registered in England and Wales No: 00478127. Registered office: Bupa Dental Care, Vantage Office Park, Old Gloucester Road, Hambrook, Bristol, United Kingdom BS16 1GW.

Oasis Dental Care Limited has a number of trading names including Bupa Dental Care. For a list of all our different trading names please follow this link.

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