Study reveals the abrasive effect of the tongue on human enamel loss
Posted on 24th May 2017 at 20:32
A study done by J. Seong, N. Claydon, E. Macdonald, S. Garner, N. West from Periodontology Clinical Trials Unit of Bristol Dental School, Bristol and R.G. Newcombe from the Institute of Primary Care and Public Health, Cardiff University. Based on the fact that toothwear is the cause of a lifetime exposure to a number of physical and chemical factors. Some of these includes attrition, abrasion, erosion and abfracation. These act synergically as a multifactorial aetiology of toothwear. This condition has increased dramatically over the last couple of decades, specially in young adults populations. Research has shown that the enamel surface loss its structural integrity specially when challenged by an acid substance such as orange juice.
After the exposure to an acidic stimulation, the surface of the tooth is softened and very vulnerable to abrasive forces, which causes further enamel substance loss. This enamel loss can lead to a subsequent dentin hypersensitivity. The acid softened zone of enamel consist of bundles of crystals separated by large spaces and is thus vulnerable to the slightest abrasive or frictional influence. It has therefore been postulated that friction from the oral soft tissue and the tongue in particular, may contribute to the site specificity of toothwear. This is why the purpose of this study was to investigate the abrasive effect of the tongue on human enamel loss with and without a prior dietary acid challenge in an in situ model.
In order to achieve this, the researchers recruited a total of 23 subjects in the study, each received a custom made lower right and left buccal intra-oral appliances, each fitted with four human specially prepared enamel samples (eight samples in total). The randomisation scheme dictated: right or left appliance samples being treated with either an acidic or water challenge regimen and; samples licked or not licked.
The mean loss of enamel at 15 days was as follows: 0.08 mm water without licking, 0.10 mm with water and licking, 1.55 mm with orange juice alone, 3.65 mm with orange juice and licking. The authors concludes that licking with the tongue per se, has no detectable abrasive effect on enamel in the absence of acidic challenge. Nevertheless, when enamel is also exposed to the erosive influence of acidic soft drinks, licking substantially exacerbates loss of enamel.
This study was published by the Journal of Dentistry #58, 2017, pages 48–53. You can check the original article by clicking here.
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