Previous research, mainly on enamel, supports a protective role for salivary pellicle against erosion. Pretreatments have tended to be lengthy (24 h or more) and of questionable relevance to the regular intake of acidic food and drink by many individuals. The aim of this study in vitro was to determine the protective effect of salivary pellicle formed on enamel and dentine over time periods up to 4 h. Flattened, polished human enamel and dentine specimens were pretreated with unstimulated human saliva from a single donor for 2 min, 30 min (enamel only), 1, 2, or 4 h. Controls were exposed to water for the same times. Specimens were then exposed to 0.3% citric acid, pH 3.2 for 10 min with stirring. This cycle was carried out 12 times. Tissue loss was measured by profilometry after 3, 6, 9 and 12 cycles. For enamel, statistically significant protection was found at >or=1 h. For dentine, significant protection was achieved at 2 min. Salivary pellicle offered proportionately greater protection to enamel than dentine. Cautiously extrapolating these in vitro data suggests that pellicle should offer erosion protection to individuals who imbibe acidic drinks at frequencies of 1 h or less.
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