In recent years, there has been a heightened awareness of the dangers of acid erosion as it pertains to oral health. However, many people are still unaware of which daily activities are ruining the precious enamel of their teeth.
What is Enamel?
Enamel is essentially the shield that protects your teeth. A hard coating covers the teeth and protects them from extreme heat, cold and other exposures. Enamel is formed before teeth even show, covering each tooth before it rises from the gums.
Enamel gives your teeth their white color, in fact, discoloration is often a result of worn out enamel. Like your permanent teeth, enamel only grows once. The body does not regenerate or repair tooth enamel. That means if your enamel is worn away by acid erosion, it’s gone forever.
What is Acid Erosion?
Acid erosion, also known as acid wear, is a corrosion of tooth enamel. Many foods are highly acidic, such as citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits. Juice, soft drinks, vinegar and alcohol are also very acidic and bad for your enamel. While enamel is among the hardest substances your body produces, acidic foods are corrosive enough to wear away the enamel.
Can Erosion be Prevented?
Acid wear is tough to combat, since many of the foods your body needs are causing the erosion. Instead of dramatic changes to your diet, start with your oral care routine.
Mouthwash is a particularly dangerous substance when it comes to your enamel. Since most brands use alcohol, which is highly corrosive, rinsing twice a day with a commercial mouthwash will accelerate enamel wear. Non-corrosive mouthwashes, such as those mentioned at www.halitosisguide.com, are the first step in preventing erosion.
If orange juice or other acidic food or drinks are part of your breakfast or evening snack, wait at least half an hour before brushing your teeth. Brushing too soon will actually increase the erosion, since you will effectively be brushing away the softened enamel.
Cutting down on acidic foods, especially things like soft drinks and carbonated beverages will help prevent erosion. If you must drink juice or sports drinks, try using a straw. Not only will this mean the acid-heavy liquid passes through your mouth more quickly, a straw will keep the majority of the fluid away from your teeth.
Drink plenty of water after meals and during the day. This helps wash away any corrosive foods or drinks you may have ingested and it’s good for overall dental care. You can also try chewing some sugar free gum, as this will stimulate saliva production to combat any potential acid remaining in your mouth after meals.
When to See a Dentist
Acid erosion of the tooth enamel is not something a person can see until it’s too late. It appears as a thinning of the teeth or transparency. Sometimes, the color of the tooth itself, which is yellowish, appears when the enamel has worn away.
However, if you feel pain when eating things that are hot, cold or sugary, this is a good indicator of lost enamel. Speak to your dentist right away to come up with a plan to prevent further erosion. Sometimes, mineral treatments can help strengthen remaining enamel with some success depending on the degree of erosion. Only a dentist will be able to properly evaluate enamel loss and advise you of proactive measures to care for damaged teeth from enamel loss.