Dental erosion is defined as the dissolution or wearing away of tooth structure due to acidic solutions. These acid solutions can be from foods or beverages that we consume or from stomach acids. Today we will discuss dental erosion from acidic foods and beverages.
Common sources of acidic solutions from our diets include citrus fruits, soft drinks, fruit juices, and sour candies. Often these substances also contain sugar which amounts to a “double hit” to the teeth. The acid softens the tooth structure and the sugar feeds the bacteria, which creates a more acidic environment. This leaves the teeth more prone to developing cavities.
Sometimes beverages which may seem healthy are often very harmful to the tooth structure. For example, “liquid cleanses” are quite common these days and some regimes advocate frequent intake of lemon juice in water. The problem is that lemon juice is highly acidic (pH 1.8) and this daily regimen is enough to cause tooth sensitivity in the short term and possible dental erosion in the long term. Once tooth structure dissolves, it is lost for good.
Prevention is the key and it is advisable to limit the intake of citrus fruits to no more than twice daily and reducing or eliminating the use of soft drinks and fruit juices. If you do have something highly acidic, then wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. This will allow the enamel to re-harden so that you do not brush away any softened tooth structure. It also helps to have acid neutralizing foods such as cheese (which is a why wine and cheese make such a great pairing!).
You can also use toothpaste formulated for acid erosion. Sensodyne Pronamel is one such toothpaste that I recommended. It is very non-abrasive and helps with tooth sensitivity. Please let us know at your next dental visit if you are concerned about dental erosion. We will check for any early signs and we can make appropriate recommendations to prevent further loss of tooth structure.