Not many things are as eye-catching as a perfect smile; it’s the sign of someone who’s dedicated to a solid oral care routine. But there are some conditions that can ruin it faster than it took to perfect. We recently had a patient come in with tooth erosion from years of soda drinking. Acid erosion from soda is one of those ailments to which everyone should pay attention so they can be sure their brushing and flossing still give them the result they expect.
Enamel acts as the first line of defense for your teeth’s resistance to daily bacteria. By covering the outermost layer of each tooth, it guards against decay. But although enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, it’s not impenetrable. Acid erosion wears your enamel down over time, leaving teeth more susceptible to decay and all sorts of maladies as a result. And once certain tooth enamel is gone, this portion doesn’t regenerate. Here are five of the most common causes of erosion and ways to prevent each one.
- Citrus Fruits: Fruits are the perfect sweet treat because they’re packed with vitamins and easy to snack on. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), however, fruits with high citrus levels – such as lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges – can demineralize your tooth enamel. Eat them in moderation and be sure to drink plenty of plain water as you snack to dilute this acidic effect.
- Soda: The ADA also cautions against drinking soda. Carbonated soft drinks are loaded with sugar – which plaque uses to erode enamel – and even diet versions are quite acidic. Research by the ADA actually suggests soda consumption erodes enamel in a manner much like illicit drug use. So, similar to citrus fruits, drinking plain water consistently is a good alternative to your morning pop.
- Acid Reflux: One digestive issue many people deal with is acid reflux. Also known as GERD (gastroesophageal acid reflux disease), acid reflux causes stomach acids to regurgitate into the throat and sometimes the mouth, making contact with the teeth. Avoid foods that stimulate the reflux reaction; tomatoes, spicy foods, chocolate, alcohol and coffee can all upset your system. Keep in mind reflux can also be treated by medication. Consult your doctor if you think you suffer from acid reflux and could benefit from a more direct treatment.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy is filled with ebbs and flows as the body works to develop a healthy baby. One of these things is morning sickness, where, in addition to the lingering nausea, acid is often left behind in an expecting mother’s mouth. That acid can cause eroded enamel just like acid reflux. Therefore, brush your teeth shortly after an episode of morning sickness to remedy this effect, and drink water during these bouts of sickness for the same reason.
- Swimming Pools: Cooling off with a dip in the pool is super refreshing on a hot day, but that swim might be wearing away your tooth enamel. If your pool is chlorinated, even correctly, this chlorine can target your teeth as water occasionally gets in your mouth. Although it may be a hassle, check the chlorine and pH levels of the pool before getting in it.
Tooth enamel is strong, but it won’t stay that way without your help. That starts at home by developing a good oral care routine that you practice diligently. Brush your teeth twice a day and don’t forget to floss. Suffer from GERD or pregnancy nausea? Carry a travel-sized toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste like Colgate® Enamel Health™ Multi-Protection with you; keep them in your desk at work for times throughout the day when your teeth need some maintenance. And as always, don’t forget to visit your dentist for regular checkups at least twice a year. Here, voice your concerns if you think acid erosion is damaging your teeth.