Is your healthy diet destroying your enamel?
Posted by: Jodie Blades Diploma Level 3 in Dental Nursing
Medically reviewed by: Dr Shan Lam BDS (Bris)
Fruit juices and salad dressings can be high in acidity, which can contribute to enamel erosion
You’ve made the conscious decision to be healthy, to look after your body and eat well. A healthy diet quite often calls for lots of fruit, in juices, smoothies, salad dressings and even hot drinks. But, did you know that a large number of healthy foods are high in acidity and can contribute to enamel erosion? We by no means want you to swap out your healthy diet, but we do want to give you the tools to protect your teeth.
WHAT IS ENAMEL EROSION?
While enamel is the hardest substance in the human body when it is exposed to high levels of acid for frequent periods of time, it can begin to wear down and thin – this is enamel erosion. Your saliva will slowly neutralise the acidity in your mouth and get it back to its natural balance. But – if each snack or meal you’re eating includes some form of acidy food it has much less of a chance to do this and to protect your enamel.
SYMPTOMS OF ENAMEL EROSION
- Translucent Enamel
- Rounded Cusps / Tooth Edges
- Yellowing – the thinning of the enamel reveals the yellow dentine below
- Tooth Sensitivity – to temperature and sweet foods
WHAT FOODS CAUSE ENAMEL EROSION?
- Lemons, limes, tangerines and oranges
- Apples, cherries, grapes, peaches, apricots and strawberries
- Fruit juices and carbonated sodas, both with sugar and diet
- Tomatoes and tomato juice
- Jams and jellies
REPAIRING ENAMEL EROSION?
PREVENTING ENAMEL EROSION
- Have acidic food and drinks just at mealtimes. This will reduce the frequency of acid attacks on your teeth.
- Drink quickly, without holding the drink in your mouth or ‘swishing’ it around your mouth. Or use a straw to help drinks go to the back of your mouth and avoid long contact with your teeth.
- Finish a meal with cheese or milk as this will help to neutralise the acid.
- Chew sugar-free gum after eating. This encourages more saliva to help neutralise the pH in your mouth and reducde the acids that contribute to enamel erosion.
- Wait for at least one hour after eating or drinking anything acidic before brushing your teeth. This is to give your teeth time to build up their mineral content again.
- Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with fluoride toothpaste. Use a small-headed brush with medium to soft bristles.
- Spit out after brushing and do not rinse, so that the fluoride stays on your teeth longer.
- See your dentist regularly, we may want to see you a little more frequently to monitor your enamel erosion.
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