We all know that acid has a negative effect on our teeth but many of us don’t realise just how bad this can be or where that acid is coming from. Acid essentially causes the enamel on our teeth to wear down and this means that we lose that protective layer. The result is that teeth can become discoloured, as well as painfully sensitive, and this is a difficult process to reverse once it has taken place. When it comes to managing the effects of acid on the teeth, it’s not always simply the food and drink that we’re consuming but the way we’re consuming it too.
What is tooth erosion?
At its most basic tooth erosion is where the structure of the tooth is damaged because the dental enamel has been weakened. Enamel is a protective layer of hard tissue that helps your teeth maintain their structure and when this is worn away it exposes the core tissue of the tooth (the ‘dentin’) underneath, which makes teeth look discoloured.
How is tooth erosion caused?
Acid plays a huge role in wearing away the enamel of your teeth and the food and drink that you consume determines how much acid your teeth are exposed to on a daily basis. Anyone suffering from a health condition, such as acid reflux or bulimia, may also see increased tooth erosion as the teeth are also damaged by exposure to stomach acids.
All food and drink contains a percentage of acid but some are particularly bad, for example: all soft drinks (including low sugar and diet), carbonated drinks, wine, fruit juice, coffee, cocoa, fruit, honey, yoghurt and pickles in vinegar.
How can you prevent tooth erosion?
There are some very easy steps that you can take to reduce the impact that food and drink has on your teeth when it comes to acid erosion. Perhaps the most obvious is to stop consuming carbonated drinks and opt for water instead. If you do still drink carbonated drinks, use a straw so that the liquid has less chance of touching your teeth.
In general, don’t keep acidic foods in your mouth for longer than is necessary to chew them – swallow them quickly (although you must make sure they are chewed enough to digest first). When you know you’ve just consumed high acid food or drink, use water to neutralise the acids in your mouth or try some sugar free gum, as this will encourage your mouth to produce more saliva and remineralise your teeth. Try only eating acidic foods during meals, rather than as snacks, so that you don’t constantly have acid attacking your teeth throughout the day, and opt for a soft tooth brush and a toothpaste with fluoride.
If you’re concerned about your tooth enamel or you’d like a check up then drop into one of the Smile Pad locations and make an appointment with one of our dentists.