Acid erosion and cavities are not the same—but they can both be harmful to teeth. Here are some of the main differences between cavities and acid erosion:
Acid erosion occurs across the whole tooth surface that has been exposed to acid.
It is the result of the acids (either from food, drinks or the stomach) on the surface of tooth enamel.
Acidic softening can weaken enamel over time, making it more susceptible to sensitivity.
Even if your teeth are clean and healthy, you can still experience acid erosion.
Cavities are generally localised to specific hard-to-clean areas of the teeth.
They form when foods with sugar or starches are turned into acids by the bacteria covering tooth surfaces: dental plaque.
Bacteria bind to saliva components bound to tooth surfaces to form plaque, which clings to teeth.
Over time, the acids produced by bacteria in plaque can cause the enamel to break down and a cavity to form, requiring filling by a dentist.
Tooth enamel is irreplaceable, so acid erosion presents a risk to your oral health. Since, in its early stages, it is not easily detectable to the naked eye, only a dentist can properly assess the effects of acid erosion on your tooth enamel.
Over time, acid erosion can lead to reduced enamel thickness and a change in shape, texture and appearance of your teeth and can also cause teeth to become sensitive.
Talk to your dentist about acid erosion and what steps you can take to protect your enamel.