Frequently Asked Questions About Acid Erosion and ProNamel® 

  • What is acid erosion?

    It is a form of tooth wear that is caused by acid softening the surface of the tooth enamel. When tooth enamel (the tooth's hard surface) is exposed to acids from certain everyday foods or drinks, it can temporarily soften and lose some of its mineral content. When the enamel is softened and we brush our teeth, it can be worn away more easily.

  • What can cause acid erosion?

    Frequent consumption of food and drinks with a high acid content can cause acid erosion. When tooth enamel is exposed to acids from foods or drinks, it can temporarily soften and lose some of its mineral content. Saliva will help neutralize acidity, but if there are a lot of acidic foods and drinks in your diet, your teeth do not have a chance to repair themselves. Wine, fruit juices and various fruits can be highly acidic and, therefore, potentially damaging to the teeth. Acidic foods should not and cannot easily be avoided since they are important to a healthy diet. However, care needs to be taken as to when and how often they are consumed. It is not just what is consumed that causes acid erosion, but also the way that acidic items are consumed.

    • Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after consuming acidic foods or drinks, when your enamel is most soft and more likely to be worn away. Try waiting an hour before brushing your teeth or consider brushing your teeth before you eat.
    • Don't swish acidic drinks in your mouth—swallow them quickly. Consider drinking soft drinks through a straw to avoid contact with your teeth. When it comes to the effects of acid erosion, studies suggest that the way you drink acidic beverages has more of an effect on your teeth than the quantity you drink. And the less you have acids in contact with your teeth, the better.
    • Have regular dental check-ups and follow your dentist's or dental hygienist's advice.
    • Use ProNamel® toothpaste as your daily toothpaste. Get a coupon for ProNamel® toothpaste now and save.
  • What is the difference between decay and erosion?

    When foods containing sugars or starches are eaten, the bacteria in the mouth (in plaque) convert these products to acids that can lead to dissolving of the tooth enamel. Over time, this can cause the enamel to break down and a cavity to form, which may require filling by a dentist. While decay is a localized process (ie: it does not affect all of the teeth at one time), erosion occurs across the whole tooth surface that has been exposed to acid. It does not involve bacteria or dietary sugars, but is the result of direct action of acids (either from food, drinks or the stomach) on the tooth enamel surface. Over time, this acidic softening can result in significant wear, leading to reduced thickness of enamel and a change in texture, shape and appearance of teeth, which may also lead to tooth sensitivity.

  • What foods are deemed acidic?

    pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a substance is. The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 1 being very acidic, 7 neutral and 14 very alkaline. Tooth enamel can dissolve with a pH of approximately 5.5 or below, and dentin (the substance located between the enamel surface and the underlying root) can dissolve at a pH of approximately 6.5 or below. Some fruit teas, wine and various fruits can be highly acidic and therefore potentially damaging to the teeth. This is not to say, however, that acidic food and drinks should be avoided.

  • Is it responsible to warn people against healthy foods?

    Acidic foods should certainly not be avoided altogether. Fruit, for example, is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet and a good source of many vitamins. As a leading healthcare company, Sensodyne ProNamel is working to make people aware of the issue of acid erosion to ensure that they take small steps to minimize the risk. For example, it is best not to regularly brush teeth immediately after consuming acidic food or drinks as this is when tooth enamel is softened and more vulnerable to wear—it is best to wait at least 1 hour, and some experts believe even longer.

  • Can acid erosion be caused by anything other than diet?

    Diet and the way that acidic food and drinks are consumed are the most likely causes of acid erosion. However, it can also result from stomach acids in the mouth, for example, as a consequence of bulimia (vomiting) or indigestion (regurgitation/gastric reflux). There are also instances—as a result of occupational or industrial exposure—where acid erosion has been brought about, for example, by prolonged inhalation of acidic fumes.

Acid Erosion: Effects

  • What are the signs and effects of acid erosion?

    The effects of acid erosion can wear away the enamel and change the texture, shape and appearance of your teeth, and may also lead to tooth sensitivity. People often do not become aware of the effects of acid erosion until they have reached an advanced stage. Detailed dental examinations can help to detect the effects of acid erosion in the earlier stages. Here are the typical signs and effects of acid erosion:

    • Transparency: Teeth may appear slightly "glassy" or transparent near their biting edges. This tends to be an earlier warning sign of acid erosion.
    • Discoloration: Teeth can have a yellow appearance as enamel becomes thinner and the darker dentin shows through. Discoloration tends to occur in the later stages of acid erosion.
    • Rounded Teeth: As acid erosion advances, teeth can develop a rounded, "sandblasted" look on their surface and edges.
    • Cracks: In the later stages of acid erosion, small cracks and roughness may be visible at the edges of the teeth.
    • Cupping: Small dents may appear on the chewing surfaces of the teeth in advanced stages of acid erosion. Fillings also may appear to rise up.
    • Sensitivity: As dentin becomes exposed through loss of enamel, twinges, tingles or aches may occur in the teeth when consuming hot, cold or sweet foods and drinks. Tooth sensitivity can occur at any stage of acid erosion, from early to advanced.

    See how ProNamel® toothpaste can help you fight the effects of acid erosion.

  • What is the link between the effects of acid erosion and tooth sensitivity?

    As tooth enamel is worn away, the underlying dentin may be exposed, causing teeth to become more sensitive. When nerve endings in the dentin are activated, a slight twinge can be felt when consuming hot, cold or sweet foods and drinks.

  • What are the long-term consequences of the effects of acid erosion?

    In the long term, the effects of acid erosion may require dental treatment in order to protect the tooth and the underlying dentin. A dentist may decide to place a bonded filling, a veneer or a crown to restore the tooth to its former color and shape. In extreme cases, the damage caused by the effects of acid erosion may result in extraction of the tooth.

    Learn more about what you can do to fight the effects of acid erosion.

  • How quickly can the effects of acid erosion occur?

    There are many factors that contribute to the progression of the effects of acid erosion. Consumption habits and teeth are different and can change the rate at which acid erosion occurs.

  • How does acid erosion affect the appearance of teeth?

    The effects of acid erosion can lead to a general wearing away of the tooth's surface and edges, which can make the teeth look older (for example, yellowing, rounding and cracking of the teeth in later stages). There are many factors that contribute to the progression of acid erosion, most notably the frequency and concentration of the acids in contact with the teeth and the volume and defense of an individual's saliva. Everyone's lifestyles, consumption, brushing habits and teeth are different and all can alter the rate at which acid erosion affects teeth.

Acid Erosion: Prevalence

Acid Erosion: Protection

  • What can be done to help protect against the effects of acid erosion?

    • Avoid brushing teeth immediately after consuming acidic food or drinks, as this is when the enamel is at its softest. It is best to brush teeth before meals or wait at least 1 hour after eating before brushing teeth.
    • Drink acidic drinks quickly—don't swish them around or hold them for prolonged periods within your mouth. Consider using a straw placed towards the back of the mouth.
    • Brush teeth gently, but thoroughly, with a medium soft toothbrush.
    • Select a toothpaste that is low in abrasion, non-acidic and has maximum fluoride availability.
    • Have regular dental check-ups and talk to a dental professional about any concerns.
    • Brush twice a day, every day, with a toothpaste like ProNamel® to help re-harden acid-softened tooth enamel and protect against the effects of acid erosion.

    See all five ProNamel® toothpaste varieties and find the right one for you!

  • Can the effects of acid erosion be reversed?

    Once the damage has been done, it cannot be reversed. In the advanced stages of acid erosion, restorative procedures might be necessary. This is why understanding the problem and taking steps to minimize risk are so important.

Acid Erosion: A Modern Phenomenon?

  • Why are the effects of acid erosion only now becoming a problem?

    Up until recently, dental health issues such as tooth decay and gum disease were widespread. Improved oral hygiene and restorative treatments have extended the lifespan of natural teeth in the 21st century. However, as teeth are lasting longer, they are subject to the effects of wear, particularly from acids. Also, modern diets high in acidic foods and drinks can contribute to the effects of acid erosion for people of any age.

  • How long have dentists known that the effects of acid erosion are a problem?

    Dentists learn about the effects of acid erosion at dental school; however, in the past, they encountered it less frequently. Now, as people are keeping their teeth longer, dentists are increasingly seeing signs of acid erosion and are becoming more vigilant in looking for early stages of acid erosion.

  • Did people suffer from acid erosion in the past?

    Yes, but in the early 20th century, dental diseases—for example, tooth decay and periodontal disease (a disease affecting the gums and bone that support the teeth)—were widespread. This greatly affected the lifespan of teeth and meant that the majority of people did not retain their teeth for life. Improved oral hygiene and restorative treatments have extended the lifespan of teeth in the 21st century. However, as teeth are lasting longer they are becoming subject to the effects of acid erosion.

Sensodyne® ProNamel® Fluoride Toothpaste

ProNamel® 6–12 Years Toothpaste for Kids

  • Is acid erosion the same as cavities?

    No. Cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth, which convert sugar and carbohydrates from the foods we eat into acid. The acid gradually dissolves the tooth enamel and dentin, resulting in tooth decay. Acid erosion is not caused by bacteria, but instead occurs when food acids are directly in contact with the surface of the tooth, where they can soften the tooth enamel.

  • Can children have acid erosion?

    Yes. "Baby teeth" are very much at risk from the effects of acid erosion because they are less mineralized, and therefore the enamel is softer than adult teeth. Acid erosion in primary teeth can also lead to acid erosion in permanent teeth. For both reasons, great care should be taken with the acidic content of a child's diet. In fact, levels of acid erosion among youth 11–14 highlight the need for early prevention. Children should be encouraged to form good oral hygiene habits and limit brushing directly after consuming acidic fruits or fruit juices.

  • How does ProNamel® 6–12 Years Toothpaste for Kids work?

    ProNamel® for Kids was developed in conjunction with dentists to help protect children's teeth from the effects of acid erosion and cavities. It works in several ways:

    • It's specially formulated to help re-harden acid-softened enamel, making children’s teeth strong and healthy.
    • It also helps to protect against cavities.
  • When and how should ProNamel® 6–12 Years Toothpaste for Kids be used?

    Your child should use ProNamel® for Kids as a daily toothpaste, following this simple advice:

    • Brush twice a day for two minutes.
    • Encourage your child to avoid swallowing and to spit out after brushing.
    • Ask your dentist for advice on brushing techniques.
  • What happens if nothing is done about acid erosion?

    If left untreated, children may need professional dental procedures to protect the teeth and the underlying dentin from further damage.

  • Does ProNamel® 6–12 Years Toothpaste for Kids treat sensitivity?

    ProNamel® for Kids contains the same optimized fluoride formulation as ProNamel®; however, unlike the adult variant, it does not contain a desensitizing agent—dentin sensitivity is rare in children and should be treated by a dentist.