Q:I’ve had pretty good health all my life—I’m forty. I have no decay. I have very low intake of sweets and I don’t drink soda. Over the last few months my lower molars have been real “sticky”. I mean it has been hard to dig out food from the tops of my teeth.
A month ago, I saw a dentist and I mentioned this. He looked and said the tops of your teeth are dissolving. He said I was grinding and I had ground through the tops of my lower molars so now he said the dentin was being eaten away by acidic foods. What do you do about that I asked? He said we’ll have to crown the teeth. Then he asked me about my diet and if I drank sodas, I said no. He asked me about indigestion and irritated throat in the morning. He asked if I had an “acidic taste” in the morning, no I said. Think about it and we’ll talk next week.
When I went back he said you have signs in your teeth that are reminiscent of gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and also that of a pop/soda swisher. That’s someone who swishes the soda throughout the mouth to feel the “burn” on the gums. The acid in the soda eats enamel and dentin.
I said I love wine - it’s my one indulgence. He looked up wines and said maybe that’s it, wine is very acidic. All my teeth are affected. I’ve worn them down and they’re dissolving, will I have to get crowns on all my teeth?
A: The short answer is perhaps but also it depends on where and how much enamel is lost. Years ago, a patient who had similar signs said he put vinegar on every vegetable he ate. All his teeth are crowned. Wine is in the same range of acidity as vinegar—so are sports drinks and soda/pop. If your front teeth are similar to my aforementioned patient you will need to start there. Establishing your original bite begins with your twelve front teeth, they will need to be crowned. That may allow palliative (temporary) treatment of your posterior teeth so that the expense can be stretched out over time.
Reconstructing your original bite can be done in phases once the twelve front teeth are crowned. Your immediate action will be to examine how you drink your wine. Letting wine sit in your mouth and on your teeth for long periods between swallowing can’t happen. Attend to your teeth quickly, exposed dentin does dissolve much faster than enamel. Attention now will save a much more costly reconstruction in the future.