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Key Differences Between Caries & Dental Erosion

Posted Sep 24th, 2019

Key Differences Between Caries & Dental Erosion

Caries and dental erosion are often defined in a similar way, but they have some key differences. Here, our Calgary dentists explain. 


The main difference between caries and dental erosion are found in the acid that causes each condition - the type of acid, where it comes from, specific sites on the tooth where it is directed, and treatment options. 

Either way, preventive oral hygiene is important in preventing both of these dental conditions. Practicing good oral hygiene can help prevent caries and dental erosion from developing in the first place, so you can keep your smile healthy and happy.

What is caries?

Caries, also known as decay or cavities, is a process that begins with the demineralization of the tooth enamel. 

  • Cause: Sugary or starchy foods that turn into acids by bacteria (plaque) in your mouth
  • Location: Occurs at specific areas of the teeth
  • Result: Breakdown of tooth enamel causing a cavity or decay to develop
  • Treatment: Reversible with remineralization, or repairable with a dental filling

What is dental erosion?

Dental erosion is a process that results in permanent damage to the tooth structure caused by acids.

  • Cause: Intrinsic (stomach acids) or extrinsic acids (from food or drinks)
  • Location: Occurs across the entire tooth surface 
  • Result: Weakening of tooth enamel creating a yellow and dull appearance and tooth sensitivity
  • Treatment: Non-reversible

How can I prevent caries and dental erosion?

It’s important that you take steps to protect your teeth. The following preventive measures will help you avoid both caries and dental erosion from developing.

Visit the Dentist Every 6 Months

Visiting the dentist for regular professional hygiene appointments gives your dentist a chance to thoroughly clean your teeth and properly assess any developing effects of acid. 

Practice Good Oral Hygiene at Home

Use toothpaste with fluoride to brush with an electric toothbrush at least twice a day. Be sure to floss at least once a day as well. 

Eat Less Sugar & Acid

Bacteria in your mouth thrives on sugar and acid. Be sure to choose low-sugar, low-acidic foods and drinks. Stay hydrated and drink water to help produce saliva, which helps wash away bacteria and acidic food debris.

If you have questions about caries and dental erosion, contact our Calgary dental office any time to book an appointment.

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