When it comes to your dental health, what you eat and drink and how you consume it have a powerful impact on your teeth. On the list of good and bad foods, there may be some surprises. In many cases, it is not what you eat and drink that is as important as how you consume these foods, confused? Let us explain….
What is tooth erosion?
Tooth erosion is a form of tooth wear. It is the loss of dental enamel and/or dentine caused by acids from stomach or diet (Have a look at the chart) Dental enamel is the thin, outer layer of the tooth that helps maintain the tooth’s structure and shape. When the enamel weakens, it exposes the underlying dentine causing the teeth to appear yellow and become sensitive.
What Causes Tooth Erosion?
• Drinking too many soft drinks or fruit drinks, along with poor dental hygiene. Bacteria thrive on sugar and produce high acid levels that can eat away at enamel.
• Eating lots of sour foods or sweets. Acidic foods can erode tooth enamel.
• Dry mouth or low saliva volume. Saliva helps prevent erosion and decay by neutralizing acids and washing away leftover food in the mouth.
• Acid reflux disease or heartburn. Acid reflux brings stomach acids up to the mouth, where the acids can erode enamel.
• Bulimia, alcoholism, or binge drinking, in which frequent vomiting exposes teeth to stomach acids.
• Certain drugs or supplements with high acid content, such as aspirin or vitamin C, can also erode enamel.
• Friction and wear and tear from brushing teeth too vigorously or grinding teeth can erode enamel, especially if these occur after ingesting acidic foods/drinks.
What are the symptoms of tooth erosion?
Acid wear may lead to serious dental problems. It is important to notice the signs;
• Sensitivity. Since protective enamel is wearing away, you may feel that your teeth are becoming more sensitive.
• Discoloration. Teeth can become slightly yellow because the thinning enamel layer exposes the underlying dentine.
• Rounded teeth. Your teeth may have a rounded or ‘sand-blasted’ look.
• Transparency. Your front teeth may appear slightly translucent (or grey) near the biting edges.
• Cupping. Small dents may appear on the chewing surface of the teeth. Fillings also might appear to be rising up out of the tooth.
How Can You Protect Tooth Enamel From Erosion?
Good dental care at home and visits to the dentist can help prevent tooth enamel erosion.
• Avoid or cut down on acidic drinks and foods, such as carbonated drinks and citrus fruits and juices. If you do drink them, do so at mealtimes to minimize their effects on the enamel.
• Rinse your mouth with water right after having acidic foods or drinks.
• Drink carbonated drinks and fruit juices with a straw, which helps acids to bypass the teeth. Don’t swish acidic drinks around in your mouth.
• Finish a meal with a glass of milk or piece of cheese to neutralize acids.
• Chew sugar-free gum with xylitol, which reduces acids from foods and drinks. Chewing gum also increases saliva flow, which helps prevent enamel erosion because saliva strengthens teeth with key minerals.
• Drink more water during the day if you have dry mouth or low saliva problems.
• Use a medium toothbrush or electric rotary toothbrush and avoid brushing too aggressively.
• Wait for at least one hour to brush teeth after you’ve had acidic foods or drinks. Acid leaves the enamel softened and more prone to erosion during brushing.
• Use fluoride toothpaste or a fluoride mouth rinse to strengthen your teeth.
• See you Doctor for advice or treatment for disorders that can bring acid into the mouth, such as bulimia, alcoholism, or gastrointestinal problems.
• Speak to Kelly our Oral Health Educator who will be happy to give you any advice about your dental health and homecare.