Erosion is the loss of tooth structure due to chemical dissolution by acids not of bacterial origin. Erosion is found initially in the enamel and, if unchecked, may proceed to the underlying dentin.
The most common cause of erosion is by foods and drinks. There are numerous clinical and laboratory reports linking erosion to excessive consumption of soft drinks such as fruit drinks, fruit juices and carbonated drinks such as colas. Other possible sources of erosive acids are from frequent sucking of lemon juice, exposure to chlorinated swimming pool water, and regurgitation of gastric acids. Signs of tooth destruction from erosion is a common characteristic in the mouths of people with bulimia since vomiting results in exposure of the oral cavity to gastric acids.
Frequently, the appearance is a broad, rounded concavity. There can be evidence of wear on surfaces of teeth not expected to be in contact with one another. If it occurs in children, there can be loss of enamel surface characteristics. Amalgam restorations in the mouth may be clean and non-tarnished.
When the etiology of dental erosion is intrinsic, caused by gastric acid that comes in contact with the teeth, it is known as perimolysis. Perimolysis occurs in individuals that vomit frequently or reflux such as patients with anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).