Are your teeth wearing down?

Is a beautiful smile for life possible?
Dr Nitish Surathu from Amber Dental.
Initial signs of tooth-wear.

Gisborne dentist, Dr Nitish Surathu from Amber Dental, addresses this all-important issue because he believes we are seeing more tooth-wear than ever before. Much of this, he believes, is related to current-day lifestyle and diet and argues that simple changes can ensure that you keep your teeth for many years. He answers some common questions on the issue . . .

Enamel the hardest substance in the human body

It is a widely held belief that tooth loss is a natural function of ageing. Many people believe that it is normal to lose some teeth over a lifetime or have teeth wear down from the daily challenges they face.

The truth is that enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, and research suggests that it wears very little per year. While many factors can affect this, we can easily ensure that we help our enamel last longer.

Why are we seeing so much wear?

The most important factors causing excess tooth-wear are lifestyle and diet-related. Of course, we also need to consider that we are generally living longer.

But the shift in diet to processed high-sugar and acidic food and drink is probably the biggest cause. So many people consume large amounts of high acid substances like white wine, carbonated flavoured drinks, sparkling water and citrus additions to water to give it flavour.

Some flavoured food incorporates high amounts of acid like vinegar or citrus-based dressings, pickles and high-acid fruit and vegetables.

You could also be in a profession that involves a lot of exposure to acid, like wine tasting. Or you could be an orchard owner who eats large quantities of citrus fruit.

A few people also use high-acid substances on an empty stomach early in the morning because they believe it is healthy — examples include lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

It really helps to become acid-conscious and aware. Most importantly, it helps to control the acid balance in your mouth by drinking enough water during the day.

Certainly, with some of these high-acid foods and drinks listed above, it is worth considering giving them up, especially if you consume them in high quantities.

The other reason we could be seeing a lot of wear is related to teeth-grinding. Commonly referred to as ‘bruxism’, this ‘habit’ is often related to stress and a few lifestyle changes can help address such issues.
It would also help to see your dentist and consider whether you need to wear a guard at night, as the ‘habit’ is mostly nocturnal.

Some grind their teeth because of what is called occlusal dysfunction, a derangement of your bite that can trigger a grinding response.

Can you treat worn-down teeth?

Not all worn down teeth necessarily need to be treated. If the level of destruction is small, it may help to see your dentist to see how you can prevent more damage.

However, for extensively worn-down teeth, it is possible to consider what is known as oral rehabilitation, where the entire bite is rebuilt from the ground up, using materials like porcelain.

There may also be medical conditions such as acid reflux or an eating disorder involved. These need to be addressed by a doctor and treatment can often have great outcomes.

Let’s start, however, by becoming more aware of what we eat and drink. And perhaps switch to more water.

Have a look at the New Zealand Dental Association website (www.nzda.org.nz) that has a lot of information for the public.
And see your dentist regularly — he or she is often able to detect things much before they get worse.

Gisborne dentist, Dr Nitish Surathu from Amber Dental, addresses this all-important issue because he believes we are seeing more tooth-wear than ever before. Much of this, he believes, is related to current-day lifestyle and diet and argues that simple changes can ensure that you keep your teeth for many years. He answers some common questions on the issue . . .

Enamel the hardest substance in the human body

It is a widely held belief that tooth loss is a natural function of ageing. Many people believe that it is normal to lose some teeth over a lifetime or have teeth wear down from the daily challenges they face.

The truth is that enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, and research suggests that it wears very little per year. While many factors can affect this, we can easily ensure that we help our enamel last longer.

Why are we seeing so much wear?

The most important factors causing excess tooth-wear are lifestyle and diet-related. Of course, we also need to consider that we are generally living longer.

But the shift in diet to processed high-sugar and acidic food and drink is probably the biggest cause. So many people consume large amounts of high acid substances like white wine, carbonated flavoured drinks, sparkling water and citrus additions to water to give it flavour.

Some flavoured food incorporates high amounts of acid like vinegar or citrus-based dressings, pickles and high-acid fruit and vegetables.

You could also be in a profession that involves a lot of exposure to acid, like wine tasting. Or you could be an orchard owner who eats large quantities of citrus fruit.

A few people also use high-acid substances on an empty stomach early in the morning because they believe it is healthy — examples include lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

It really helps to become acid-conscious and aware. Most importantly, it helps to control the acid balance in your mouth by drinking enough water during the day.

Certainly, with some of these high-acid foods and drinks listed above, it is worth considering giving them up, especially if you consume them in high quantities.

The other reason we could be seeing a lot of wear is related to teeth-grinding. Commonly referred to as ‘bruxism’, this ‘habit’ is often related to stress and a few lifestyle changes can help address such issues.
It would also help to see your dentist and consider whether you need to wear a guard at night, as the ‘habit’ is mostly nocturnal.

Some grind their teeth because of what is called occlusal dysfunction, a derangement of your bite that can trigger a grinding response.

Can you treat worn-down teeth?

Not all worn down teeth necessarily need to be treated. If the level of destruction is small, it may help to see your dentist to see how you can prevent more damage.

However, for extensively worn-down teeth, it is possible to consider what is known as oral rehabilitation, where the entire bite is rebuilt from the ground up, using materials like porcelain.

There may also be medical conditions such as acid reflux or an eating disorder involved. These need to be addressed by a doctor and treatment can often have great outcomes.

Let’s start, however, by becoming more aware of what we eat and drink. And perhaps switch to more water.

Have a look at the New Zealand Dental Association website (www.nzda.org.nz) that has a lot of information for the public.
And see your dentist regularly — he or she is often able to detect things much before they get worse.

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