The Faculty of General Dental Practice is among leading dental organisations to launch a joint campaign to encourage routine screening for erosive tooth wear.
Erosive tooth wear is now the third most commonly observed oral condition, affecting up to 30% of European adults1. With the risk of experiencing it increasing nearly 12-fold when acidic drinks are consumed on two occasions outside of meals2, the rise in erosive tooth wear is thought to result from modern lifestyle factors, such as the rise of snacking culture and the popularity of fresh fruit and fruit juices, as well as an ageing population who retain their teeth for longer.
Although the condition may have a slow rate of progression, the impact on aesthetics and function, as well as the financial implication of restoration, can be significant. However, UK research shows that erosive tooth wear is currently not routinely screened for, or monitored, as part of the standard dental examination3.
An expert working group, involving the Faculty together with representatives of the Erosive Tooth Wear Foundation, the British Society of Dental Hygienists and Therapists, the Dental Protection Society and King’s College London, is now calling on the dental profession to use the basic erosive wear examination (BEWE) as part of every oral assessment in order to prompt early identification and preventative discussions.
The BEWE is designed specifically to help screen for signs of erosive tooth wear in general dental practice, and involves the practitioner grading the patient on a scale from 0 (no wear) to 3 (severe wear). As it follows the same sextant approach as the basic periodontal examination, it can be conducted at the same time, therefore requiring little additional clinical time. Educational resources both for dental professionals and patients are available at https://www.erosivetoothwear.com and an introductory video is above.
Ian Mills, Dean of FGDP(UK) and the Faculty’s representative on the expert working group on erosive tooth wear, commented:
“Our profession is committed to delivering excellence in patient care. Modern lifestyles and eating habits present a range of challenges including the potential rise in erosive tooth wear. Just as we do with caries and gum disease, we need to ensure that erosive tooth wear is routinely monitored and patients are informed. The BEWE is a quick, simple and effective way to assess tooth wear and could undoubtedly benefit both patients and practitioners.”
Nairn Wilson, Chair of the Trustee Board of the College of General Dentistry, was also on the expert working group, and added:
"With the increasing prevalence of erosive tooth wear, it is important that all practitioners are up to date on the condition and are assessing patients for signs and risk factors. For more established practitioners this may mean a need to change well-established examination routines and update knowledge to prevent any future risk of claims of supervised neglect.”
An opinion paper by members of the expert working group, Monitoring erosive toothwear: BEWE, a simple tool to protect patients and the profession, was published in the British Dental Journal in June 2019.
Ian has also written a blog on how to use the BEWE and how to discuss erosive tooth wear with patients.
1 Bartlett et al. Monitoring erosive tooth wear: BEWE, a simple tool to protect patients and the profession. BDJ 2019; 226(12): 930-932
2 O'Toole et al. Journal of Dentistry. 2017; 56: 99-104
3 O’Toole S, Khan M, Patel A, Patel NJ, Shah N, Bartlett D, et al. Tooth wear risk assessment and care-planning in general dental practice. Br Dent J 2018;224. doi:10.1038/sj.bdj.2018.1