It took a bevy of specialists and faculty members at the New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry to unravel the mystery of how a 52-year-old male patient lost nearly all the enamel of his teeth in five months.
He was loosing weight and he’s a very fit individual; he looked like somebody who could be anemic, bulimic, or anorexic because he was very thin and tall. The possibility of eating disorders was discussed, but then the erosion would be on the inner surfaces of the teeth, not the outer surfaces.
Turns out he had started swimming 90 minutes a day over the course of the summer in the pool at his home, which was improperly chlorinated and highly acidic. He got sensitive teeth from it, resulting in him not eating because even the air from breathing would hurt his teeth.
The experts were chocked that such dramatic erosion could take place over a five-month period, started looking in literature and found a report from 1982 that had similar but not as aggresive finding. And an announcement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (and Prevention) in the 1980s about local dentists reporting milder erosions in competitive swimmers.
Ultimately, they restored his teeth, but it was a very expensive restoration. “I am certain that the community of dental professionals isn’t going to come across the extent and aggressiveness of the case that I saw,” says Dr. Jahangiri, “but dentists should be aware.”