It’s no secret the foods you eat and drink impact your teeth, oral health and smiles.Teeth staining is an unhappy side effect of many of your favourites; red wine, coffee, tea, curry, the list goes on! And then there’s sugar, the fuel for cavity-causing bacteria. The good news is there’s lots of things you can do to mitigate the more negative side-effects of your diet. At Wayside Dental in Harpenden, Hertfordshire we tell our patients to substitute water for fizzy drinks, avoid sugary or acidic foods between meals, brush and clean your teeth with inter-dental aids twice a day and have regular dental check-ups.
So far, so good. But while you’re saving your beautiful smiles from stains and decay, there’s another source of diet-related damageyou need to be aware of;acids. Acidic foods and drinks can erode the surface of a tooth’s enamel, leaving your teeth more vulnerable to sensitivity and discolouration.
Erosion can show as hollows in your teeth or wearing away of the tooth’s surface or biting edges. Teeth can look darker where the dentine under the enamel has been exposed and teeth can be sensitive to hot and cold or acidic foods and drinks.
Enamel is the strongest substance in your body, stronger than bonebut it’s not indestructible and acids are one of the major causes of enamel damage. It’s the acids produced by bacteria that leads to cavities, butour bodies are designed to protecttooth enamel. 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 comes to the rescue and is designed to slowly cancel out this acidity in your mouth and get it back to its natural PH balance. If the acidic attacks happen too often, your mouth doesn’t have the chance to repair itself and then tiny bits of enamel can erode from your teeth.
Some of the most acidic foods are obvious. Citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes in their many culinary forms, anything pickled in vinegar, coffee, tea, wine—these foods are acidic, but also a regular part ofa healthy diet. You don’t need to avoid these foods altogether, but it’s best to enjoy them as part of a meal or enjoy them sparingly. And try to balance out some of these high-acidic foods with low-acidic choices like bananas, bread, and cheese and milk.
Other sources of damaging acids may come as more of a surprise. Studies have linked fizzy drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks to higher levels of tooth erosion. The combination of citric acid, phosphoric acid andcarbonation raises acidity levels in the mouth. At Wayside Dental we always recommend drinking wateras a healthy alternative for hydration, but if you do likethe odd fizzy or sports drink, rinse with water after drinking and use a straw to avoid contact with your teeth.
Fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha and kimchi have become very fashionable for their alleged health benefits, but their high acidity means they are very damaging to tooth enamel. It is best to limit these types of food to mealtimes, eat them quickly and if drinking, use a straw. Rinse your mouth with water after eating and if you are not restricted to non-dairy, eat a piece of cheese afterwards to help your mouth’s PH more quickly return to normal. Do not brush your teeth for at least one hour after eating fermented foods.
The short answer is yes, buttiming will be important. Because the acids in foods softenenamel, brushing right after a big glass of orange juice or a coke can be more harmful for tooth surfaces and can result in you brushing away enamel. At Wayside Dental Practice we recommend waiting anywhere from 20-60 minutes before brushing your teeth. This gives your saliva the chance to not only wash away acids, but to “remineralize” your teeth.
Regular check-ups can prevent the problem becoming any worse. If it needs treating, this can be done by bonding a filling onto the tooth. In more severe cases, your tooth can be veneered.
If you notice any of the symptoms of dental erosion, including pain, sensitivity when you eat or drink something hot, cold or sweet, or yellow discoloration of your teeth, book a dental appointment and speak with one of our experienced dental team in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. By avoiding foods that stain, by reducing sugars that lead to decay, and by limiting the acidic foods that erode your enamel, you’ll give yourself the best chance to keep a happy, healthy smile for a lifetime.
Contact Us today for an appointment.