Dental erosion: recognizing and preventing it

dental erosion

We often underestimate the risks of dental erosion, a real enemy of oral health. It is caused by acid attacks following the consumption of certain types of food and drink. The Helvident team explains how to recognize this problem and shares tips on how to prevent it.

What is dental erosion?

Visit Swiss Society of Dentists provides a good definition of dental erosion. These are localized areas of destruction on the surface of the teeth that are eaten away by the action of certain acids. This leads to the loss of enamel, the hard layer of the tooth that protects the sensitive dentine beneath. When the enamel is worn away, the dentin is exposed, leading to pain and hypersensitivity. Unlike cavities, erosions are not caused by bacteria (plaque) or inadequate oral hygiene. 

How do I know if I'm suffering from dental erosion? 

Mild dental erosions often go unnoticed, as they cause no symptoms. They are limited to the superficial layers of enamel. Advanced erosions, on the other hand, can lead to dental hypersensitivity to heatTooth dyschromia (discoloration) may also occur. Dyschromia (discoloration) of the teeth may also occur, as may hollowing of the teeth. In general, there is general wear of the surface and chewing edges.

What are the causes?

Every time you eat or drink something acidic, your tooth enamel temporarily softens and loses minerals. Your saliva slowly eliminates this acidity in your mouth to restore a neutral balance. However, frequent and repeated contact with such acids leads to the progressive destruction of enamel and dentine.

There are two sources of acids. They can come from inside the body, or be brought in from outside: 

  • Intrinsic acids: frequent vomiting (particularly in the case of eating disorders), gastrointestinal tract disorders with gastric acid regurgitation (reflux), known as heartburn.
  • Extrinsic acids: acidic foods and beverages (fruits and vegetables)
    acids, vinegar, soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks, etc.), but also medicines (aspirin, vitamin C preparations, iron tonics, etc.).

How can dental erosions be prevented?

Acid-etched enamel is lost for good. However, there are ways of limiting the occurrence of such damage. Dentists in Lausanne, Fribourg and Aigle share their advice. They focus on the 4 main risk factors: oral hygiene, diet, saliva and personal circumstances.

Oral hygiene 

Did you know that excessive hygiene with inappropriate dental care products and poor brushing techniques can harm your teeth? Your dentist or dental hygienist in Fribourg, Lausanne or Aigle will be able to advise you.

  • Thorough and meticulous cleaning of all tooth surfaces takes at least 2-3 minutes. 
  • It's best to use a soft toothbrush and avoid exerting too much pressure when brushing.  
  • Choose a fluoride-containing toothpaste with low abrasive power (RDA value of around 40).  
  • Once a week, apply a product with a high concentration of fluoride to all your teeth. Fluorides increase your teeth's resistance to acids.


We recommend a healthy, balanced diet. It's better for your teeth and your overall health. 

  • Reduce the number of acid exposures during the day. 
  • If you drink acidic beverages, it's best to combine them with your meal and drink them all at once, rather than in small sips. Use a straw to avoid prolonged contact of the acid with your teeth. 
  • Neutralize the acid by rinsing your mouth with water, drinking a little milk or eating a piece of cheese.


Saliva has the ability to neutralize and dilute acids within the oral cavity. Each of us secretes a different quantity of saliva. People with low saliva flow are at greater risk of tooth erosion.

  • Stimulate the salivation process by chewing on sugar-free chewing gums (with the "Sympadent" logo). 
  • Drink sufficient quantities of sugar-free, acid-free liquids, ideally water. Spread your intake throughout the day.

Gastrointestinal disorders or eating disorders

Individuals with gastrointestinal disorders or eating disorders are at particularly high risk of dental erosions.

  • Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting or acid regurgitation. It's best to rinse your mouth with fluoride mouthwash or, failing that, plenty of water. 
  • After consulting your dentist, use a highly effective fluoride product. 
  • Don't hesitate to ask for help if you suffer from eating disorders.

The Helvident team welcomes you to one of our dental clinics in Lausanne, Fribourg or Aigle. Contact us to make an appointment.