Home > Erosive Tooth Wear and You

Did you know that 30% of people have their tooth enamel dissolved or worn away?

Erosive Tooth Wear is a Preventable condition if diet acids are controlled

Avoid snacking between meals with acidic fruits, fruit based drinks and fizzy soft drinks.

Erosive Tooth Wear is a Common condition, affecting 30% of adults

The condition is different from tooth decay and, at worst, can destroy teeth and be disfiguring

Erosive Tooth Wear linked to heartburn can be controlled

If stomach acid comes into your mouth regularly you should:

Seek Medical advice to control the heartburn


See your Dentist to assess any damage to your teeth

What is Erosive Tooth Wear?

When you look at your teeth, they seem solid, but actually the enamel, the outer layer of your tooth, can slowly dissolve if it’s surrounded by acid, such as that found in fruit juices or some fizzy drinks; this is known as ‘erosion’

  • Erosion starts when minerals are removed from your teeth and softens the enamel
  • The ingredients for re-hardening your teeth are found in saliva and fluoride in toothpastes so the softening can be repaired 

Erosive Tooth Wear most often occurs on your front teeth and the biting surfaces of your back teeth

  • Part or all of the outer layer of tooth, the enamel, may eventually be lost, exposing the inner layer, the dentin. This inner layer is more yellow and once exposed changes the colour of the teeth.
  • You are not alone, erosive tooth wear is common, about a third of all adults have it, though few have it severely
  • Read more about the structure of your teeth and how acid affects your teeth.

Causes of erosive tooth wear

One of the most common ways to wear away the tooth is by drinking and eating acidic drinks and foods outside meal times.

A number of drinks and some foods can contribute to erosive tooth wear but the amount of times you consume these, especially by frequent snacking, can also influence the amount of erosion


Fruit-based drinks containing citric acid

Carbonated drinks

Alcoholic drinks

Other Foods

Acidic Sweets

Other causes can include:

Signs & Symptoms

Changes in the shape and/ or appearance/ colour of your teeth. Teeth may become:

Yellow appearance

Shape may change

Glassy in appearance

Teeth become shorter

Pain when teeth come into contact with hot/cold

It may be your dentist who first notices this but don’t wait, make an appointment if you are concerned about this, even if your teeth aren’t hurting

Prevention & Treatment

You can read more in our Patient FAQ's

What can I do to prevent it?

How does acid affect my teeth?

pH is determined on a scale of 0–14 from acidic (pH 0–6), through neutral (pH 7), to alkaline (pH 8–14). It is a measure of the activity of hydrogen ions and the pH in your mouth is usually around neutral

Your enamel is mostly made of crystals of a mineral called hydroxyapatite. These crystals can dissolve if surrounded by acid of a pH lower than 5.5, meaning that if your teeth are in contact with acid for too long, the top layer could disappear, like salt crystals in water; this is known as ‘demineralisation’.

However, the ‘ingredients’ to make up enamel are also in your saliva and the soft, removable layer next to the teeth (called the ‘pellicle’) so your teeth are constantly being rebuilt; this is known as ‘remineralisation’.

The key to overcoming acid erosion is to make sure your teeth are not exposed to a highly acidic environment for too long.

The pH of a variety of drinks shows how acidic they are

  • Wine (red or white): pH 3.4–3.7
  • Grapefruit, apple or orange juice: pH 3.0–3.7
  • Cola: pH 2.2–2.6

Could you be at risk of erosive tooth wear?

Select answers to the following questions to determine whether you could be at risk of erosive tooth wear.

This quiz is designed to help you to understand the risk factors for erosive tooth wear –
however for a more detailed diagnosis you need to speak to your dental professional.


Do you drink fruit juices or smoothies between meals?


Do you drink fizzy drinks between meals?


Do you drink wine outside of mealtimes?


Do you snack on fruit between meals?


Do you drink hot water with lemon in on a regular basis between meals?


Do you drink fruit teas on a regular basis between meals?


Do you eat fruit with meals?


Do you suffer from acid reflux?


Do you swill drinks around your mouth when you drink them?



Score 0

Your score may indicate you have a low number of risk factors for erosive tooth wear. In order to maintain this, try to maintain consumption of acidic food or drinks that you may have (such as fizzy drinks, wine, fruit & juices) to mealtimes.


Score 0

You score may indicate that you may be at risk of erosive tooth wear. Snacking on acidic food and drinks between meals over extended periods increases the amount of contact time with your enamel and reduces the likelihood that your mouth can neutralise the acid.


Score 0

Your score may indicate a high risk of erosive tooth wear. Speak to your dental professional about steps you can take to minimise the risk. This may include limiting acidic food and drinks to mealtimes, avoiding acidic drinks over extended periods during the day and speaking to your doctor if you suffer with acid reflux.

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