You always hear about cavities and gum disease, but what’s all this about enamel erosion? Enamel erosion wears down the hard protective top layer of your teeth. Once this surface is damaged, it allows bacteria to penetrate further, creating decay and cavities.
Unfortunately, enamel erosion can occur for many different reasons, including many foods you might enjoy that can speed up the erosion process. Here we look at enamel erosion, the signs to look for and the top eight foods and drinks you should avoid.
What is enamel erosion?
As mentioned above, erosion is the loss of your outer tooth layer called the enamel. Erosion is caused by acids that are strong enough to penetrate the hard surface. This is bad as the hard surface is there to protect the softer, more sensitive dentine below.
As your enamel wears away, the dentine becomes more vulnerable leading to risk for cavities, but also tooth sensitivity. However, it is not just food that causes erosion. Other risk factors include:
- Grinding your teeth
- Acid reflux
- Low saliva flow
- Some medications, such as antihistamines and aspirin
- Eating disorders
If you have any of these issues, you could increase the risk for enamel erosion.
What are the signs of enamel erosion?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, chances are you have enamel erosion:
- Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold food and beverages
- Colour changes to your fillings
- Tooth discolouration that becomes more yellow or “transparent”
If you notice any of these signs, give our team a call so we can assess your teeth. We also look for these symptoms at your regular dental checkups.
8 Foods and Beverages to Avoid
Whether you are experiencing enamel erosion or want to avoid it, there are many foods and drinks you might want to enjoy less frequently. The following eight foods and drinks contain a lot of acids that contribute to erosion:
1. Oranges: Oranges are packed with Vitamin C but they are also packed with acid. Avoid eating them too often, including orange juice. If you have kids, it is especially important to avoid serving orange slices they might suck on for a while as this increases the time their teeth are exposed to the acids.
2. Dried fruit: While this might seem like a healthy snack, dried fruits are just as sticky as candy. When the fruit sticks to your teeth, the sugar in the debris can erode tooth enamel. Always choose fresh fruit over dried.
3. Sports drinks: We’re not sure where the myth started that made people think of sports drinks as a healthy choice, but we’re here to end it. These drinks are just as packed with sugar and acid as any soda. Stick to water and you’ll avoid all that damaging acid.
4. Gummies: Gummies of any kind whether they are vitamins, sports gels or candy all have the same negative effects that lead to tooth erosion due to the double whammy of sugar and stickiness.
5. Sour candy: These candies are even worse than gummies as they have added ingredients to make them pucker-worthy from the tang, which usually includes some kind of additional acid. Combined with the stickiness this is an erosion time bomb.
6. Lemon: Just like oranges, lemons are high in acid, as are limes for that matter. Even an innocent wedge in your drink or squirt in your water can contain enough acid to do serious damage over time.
7. Water flavourings: The trend of adding either drops or powders to your water for flavour also adds more acid into your water. The citrus flavours tend to be the worst but if you want the healthiest drink, just choose plain water.
8. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are quite acidic. A good rule of thumb is to avoid eating them raw as a snack and instead either cook them or put them in a sandwich so you don’t have direct contact with your teeth.
How to Protect Your Teeth from Erosion
In hand with avoiding erosion promoting foods and drinks, follow these tips to protect your teeth:
- Never brush your teeth immediately following eating or drinking acidic foods. Instead, let your saliva do its job first. Always wait about an hour following a snack or meal to brush. This allows the contents of your saliva to re-harden your enamel. Use a straw when enjoying highly sweet or acidic drinks.
- Always sip and swallow high acid drinks instead of swishing them around in your mouth.
- Enjoy a glass of milk or a piece of cheese after acidic meals or beverages to help neutralize acids.
- If you find your mouth feels dry, chew sugarless gum to produce enough saliva to protect your enamel.
- Only use dental products approved by the dental association and look for products that promote enamel health. We can recommend the best products for your needs.
If you are worried about enamel erosion, we can offer advice on how to protect your teeth and keep them as healthy as possible. However, following these tips is a good start.
To talk to the best dentist in Guelph, call Guelph Family Dentistry at (888) 250-8819 today or contact us here.