patient displaying erosive tooth wearAndrei Gutierrez explains why GSK is pushing for clinicians to check for erosive tooth wear as part of patients’ routine check up.

Why is it important to prioritise erosive tooth wear among all other issues?

Erosive tooth wear 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 erosive tooth wear 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 clinicians routinely identify or check 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 our snacking culture, combined with the popularity of fresh fruit and fruit juices, has significantly increased the risk of developing erosive tooth wear. Especially when patients consume them outside of mealtimes.

Odds ratios for example increase nearly 12-fold when acidic drinks are consumed on two occasions outside of meals (O’Toole et al, 2017). This highlights 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, is significant.

According to a study, costs could be up to £31,000 for private treatment. And the average treatment took 21 months (O’Toole et al, 2018).

How can dentists integrate checks for erosive tooth wear into appointments?

Despite being the third most commonly observed oral condition, affecting up to 30% of European adults and not requiring a drill to fix, UK research shows that erosive tooth wear is currently not routinely screened, or monitored, as part of the standard dental examination (O’Toole et al, 2018).

With early identification of erosive tooth wear, 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. It acts as a prompt to protect both the patient and the dental professional.

Based on your patient’s cumulative BEWE score, healthcare professionals can make an appropriate plan to manage erosive tooth wear.

Practices can integrate the BEWE into appointments alongside the basic periodontal examination (BPE). This makes 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 leading dental bodies, GSK launched a joint campaign to drive the awareness of erosive tooth wear.

We want to tackle the issue head on and change the way  the dental profession as a whole approaches erosive tooth wear.

This is why, with the support of leaders of the Erosive Tooth Wear Foundation, we are encouraging dental professionals to incorporate the basic erosive wear examination 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’s 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. This consequently allows them to keep healthy gums and teeth. And it avoids tooth wear or gum issues whilst the dentist is not accessible.

References

O’Toole S, Bernabé E, Moazzez R and Bartlett D (2017) Timing of dietary acid intake and erosive tooth wear: A case-control study. J Dent 56: 99-104

O’Toole S, Khan M, Patel A, Patel NJ, Shah N, Bartlett D and Movahedi S (2018) Tooth wear risk assessment and care-planning in general dental practice. Br Dent J 224(5): 358-62

O’Toole S, Pennington M, Varma S and Bartlett D (2018) The treatment need and associated cost of erosive tooth wear rehabilitation – a service evaluation within an NHS dental hospital. Br Dent J 224(12): 957-61