What Causes Dental Erosion?
A close up of a smile.

Dental erosion occurs when the outermost layer of the teeth, or enamel, wears away. Acids are the main culprit, but there are more potential reasons. Let’s dig deeper into the causes of enamel loss in this post.

What causes enamel erosion?

The causes of dental erosion can be intrinsic or extrinsic.

Intrinsic, or internal, erosion occurs when strong acids from the stomach reach and linger in the mouth. These acids can be stronger than saliva and erode the enamel faster.

On the other hand, extrinsic or external erosion can be due to elements the body is exposed to, such as food, environment, and lifestyle.

Intrinsic Factors

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is one condition linked to dental erosion, and it can affect children and adults. The gravity of the damage on the tooth surface can be attributed to the frequency or strength of the acids being released from the stomach and going into the mouth. Overeating may cause the acids to get to the mouth during sleep, increasing the chances of erosion due to reduced salivary flow.
  • Bulimia. Bulimia can cause a person to throw up several times to maintain a certain weight. People with bulimia or eating disorders are more vulnerable to dental erosion than those without. The teeth are exposed to acid attacks as the stomach goes through the mouth and the front teeth during vomiting episodes. Your dentist will be able to spot signs during routine oral examinations and hygiene cleanings.
  • Pregnancy. Nausea and vomiting among pregnant women can also contribute to dental erosion. Talk to your dentist for further advice if you’re expecting and struggling with toothpaste use or brushing due to nausea. Good oral health is essential during pregnancy, as hormonal changes can increase your risk for gum disease, which poor oral hygiene can exacerbate.
  • Dry mouth. Saliva plays a crucial role in remineralizing teeth and neutralizing the acid level in the mouth. It can help flush down acids coming from the stomach and reverse early signs of erosion. If you experience constant dry mouth, you may be at increased risk for enamel loss.

Extrinsic Factors

Intrinsic factors that can lead to enamel erosion include the following:

  • Poor oral hygiene. Harmful bacteria feed on sugar and starch and produce acids that break down the enamel. Proper brushing and flossing can keep food deposits and plaque from accumulating, but poor oral hygiene can make the tooth surfaces more susceptible to erosion.
  • Lifestyle. Frequent intake of sports drinks, acidic fruit juices, and vinegar-based food or salad can also contribute to dental erosion. Reduced salivary flow and a dry mouth can make you more vulnerable to thinning enamel.
  • Diet. A high intake of acidic foods and beverages results in enamel loss too. Watch out for added acids in carbonated beverages, energy drinks, and alcoholic drinks. Maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet and increase your water intake to keep the mouth moisturized.

These factors combined can increase your risk of dental erosion even further. Your dentist can assist you in managing them and improving your oral hygiene routine.

See a Dentist in Red Deer, AB, Today

Do you have further concerns regarding enamel erosion? Do you feel you need your mouth checked for potential dental problems?

If you’re looking for a dental office in Red Deer, Alberta, you can reach us at Image Dental Care. Enamel erosion, decay, and cavities are common oral health issues that immediate action can prevent.

Let’s find ways to boost your tooth health and keep these problems at bay.


  1. Etiology of dental erosion--extrinsic factors
  2. Dental Erosion, American Dental Association