Researchers have now revealed that excessive intake of acidic foods such as fruit, yogurt, citric and soft drinks, which seem like harmless foods, may in fact lead to permanent damage to one’s teeth.
Known as tooth erosion, the effect of acid on teeth causes the break down of the tooth structure, and this leads to decay.
According to Dr.David Bartlett, “Early diagnosis and prevention of the effects of tooth erosion are fundamental for keeping teeth healthy for life. Sipping or holding acidic drinks in the mouth before swallowing increases the risk of erosion on dental enamel.”
Soft drinks which contain acids also break the surfaces of one’s teeth. These acids damage tooth enamel by dissolving the mineral structure of teeth, thinning the teeth in the process.
Eventually, because of repeated exposure to acid, the tooth’s enamel will lose its shape and color. As the damage progresses, the underlying dentin (the tissue that makes up the core of each tooth), becomes exposed causing the teeth to look yellow.
To prevent such tooth erosion, Dr.Bartlett advises patients who eat or drink acid foods or beverages to wait at least 20 minutes before brushing the teeth so as not to destroy the weakened enamel.
He also suggests eating acidic foods within five minutes, instead of snaking on them throughout the day. He says that if one has to consume these foods, then they should do so during meal times so as to minimize the amount of time the acid remains on the teeth.
And it’s not only acidic foods that cause dental erosion. Frequently consuming foods with a low pH (potential of Hydrogen) value such as fruit juices, pickles, fresh yogurt, honey and raisins can also lead to irreversible dental erosion.
People who have the habit of sucking on lemons, and swishing soda in their mouths have also to be careful. Doing this extends the amount of time that enamel and dentin are exposed to the acids and this increases the structural damage.
“It’s not what you eat and drink that is important, it how you consume acidic food,” said Dr.Bartlett.
Dr. Bartlett also encourages patients to talk to their dentist about the use of dentin bonding to help prevent tooth erosion, a procedure he will share with attendees during his course at the AGD’s annual meeting.