Why is it important to prioritise erosive tooth wear among all other issues?
Erosive tooth wear (ETW) is the third most common dental condition and its prevalence is increasing. Our modern snacking culture, coupled with an ageing population who retain their teeth for longer, means that ETW is a rapidly increasing risk, but with early identification and patient counselling, dental professionals can prevent the condition from developing.
It’s not a condition that is routinely identified or checked for, however, with the help of leaders from the Erosive Tooth Wear Foundation, we want to change that.
What are the implications of not treating the condition?
Reports show that the rise in snacking culture combined with the popularity of fresh fruit and fruit juices has significantly increased the risk of developing ETW, especially when they are consumed outside of mealtimes. Odds ratios, for example, increase nearly 12-fold when acidic drinks are consumed on two occasions outside of meals, highlighting how modern diets and lifestyles have a substantial role to play. If the condition is neglected, the impact on aesthetics and function, as well as the financial implication of restoration, can be significant. According to a study, costs could be up to £31k for private treatment and the average treatment took 21 months.
How can checks for erosive tooth wear be integrated into appointments?
Despite being the third most commonly observed oral condition, affecting up to 30 per cent of European adults and not requiring a drill to fix, UK research shows that ETW is currently not routinely screened, or monitored, as part of the standard dental examination. With early identification of ETW, prompt preventative discussions can take place with patients. Simple advice, such as limiting the number of acidic drinks you have and switching when you have them to mealtimes may make a real difference in reducing patient risk. To start these conversations, professionals can ensure that that basic erosive wear examination (BEWE) is incorporated into every oral assessment.
The BEWE offers a simple way to screen for and record signs of erosive tooth wear, and to act as a prompt to protect both the patient and the dental professional. Based on your patient’s cumulative BEWE score, an appropriate plan can be made to manage ETW. The BEWE can be integrated into appointments alongside the basic periodontal examination (BPE), making it a quick, effective and validated tool for assessing enamel wear.
How are professionals supporting dentists to raise awareness of erosive tooth wear?
Together with some of the leading dental bodies, we launched a joint campaign to drive the awareness of ETW. We want to tackle the issue head on and change the way that the dental profession as a whole approaches ETW. This is why, with the support of leaders of the Erosive Tooth Wear Foundation, we are encouraging dental professionals to incorporate basic erosive wear examination (BEWE) into their standard dental examination, ensuring its presence in every oral assessment.
How important is self-care in the prevention of Erosive Tooth Wear?
Whilst processes like BEWE are vital examination tools, it is important that patients are aware of self-care preventative measures. With the recent uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, patients may well be reluctant to return to the dentist due to safety concerns. This has increased the importance of prevention, with many patients needing to use self-care methods over professional treatment. Healthcare professionals should ensure they provide patients with the correct oral hygiene and dietary advice, allowing them to keep healthy gums and teeth, and avoid ETW or gum issues whilst the dentist is not as accessible.
References available upon request.