Eating and drinking fresh fruits and juices is part of a healthy balanced diet. But have them too often, and they can cause damage to the tooth’s enamel. This is called acid erosion, and appears as a worn surface and thinning of the tooth. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, but is still vulnerable to acid.
Every time you eat or drink anything acidic, the enamel on your teeth becomes softer for a short while, and loses some of its mineral content. Your saliva will slowly cancel out this acidity in your mouth and get it back to its natural balance. However, if this acid attack happens too often, your mouth does not have a chance to repair itself and tiny particles of enamel can be brushed away. Over time, you start to lose the surface of your teeth. The acid can also open the dentine tubules, causing sensitivity.
Examples of acidic food : Oranges, Grapefruits, Apples, strawberries, berries, pineapple, and many other fruits
Examples of acidic drinks : Fresh fruit juice, Fruit Smoothies, fizzy drinks ( including Diet drinks) and fruit teas
Enamel starts to lose minerals at a ph below 5.5. But your saliva can help repair the damage , once the ph rises back to neutral ph
- Orange juice has a ph of 3.6
- Carbonated drinks have a ph of below 2.6
- Milk has a ph of 6.6
Flouride can help the tooth enamel repair, and in addition, can make the enamel more resistant to future acid attack.
Tips to protect your teeth from acid erosion:
- It’s all about frequency: so reduce how often you eat and drink acidic items, still have as much, but stick to
meals and snacks.
- Avoid acidic snacks and acidic drinks between meals
- Avoid swishing or holding acidic drinks in your mouth
- Leave as long as possible before brushing teeth after eating
- After an acidic meal, eat nuts or cheese to reduce acidity in your mouth
- Chewing sugar free chewing gum after anything acidic, increases saliva flow, and will help the tooth surface recover
Other preventative tips:
- Toothpaste: use a fluoride toothpaste with low abrasion to help re-harden tooth enamel. If you are more prone to acid erosion of the teeth, then certain products help protect the tooth surface from the acid eg. Sensodyne Pronamel
- Mouthwash: Use a fluoride-containing, alcohol-free mouthwash maybe once or twice a week.
- Toothbrush: use a medium or soft brush that’s gentle on tooth enamel. definitely avoid a hard brush
- For children aged up to 12 years – use a children’s flouride toothpaste for protection against acid erosion and tooth decay. Children’s tooth pastes still contain flouride, but a lower dose than adult tooth paste