Tooth enamel is a tough protective layer that covers the outside surface of teeth. In fact it is the hardest material in the human body containing 96% mineral by weight, namely, crystalline calcium phosphate. That being said it is vulnerable to damage and it has a dangerous enemy called…ACID.
Acid has destructive powers that can breakdown this hard material. Our diet plays an important part and we as dentists are finding more frequently that our patients’ teeth do not last as long as they did in the past.
Dental erosion is the loss of tooth enamel caused by acids. These acids are found in foods and drinks and with excessive exposure, it causes rapid wear of enamel. This leads to exposed nerves, tooth damage, pain, sensitivity and tooth loss. Treatments are complex and costly. If you consume lots of fizzy drinks and juice beverages please read on…
Fizzy drinks including most ‘diet’ versions contain acid. Acidity is measured by its ‘pH value’, and anything that has a pH value lower than 5.5 is more acidic and can harm your teeth. The pH for nearly all fizzy drinks is less than 3.0 making them very dangerous. The active ingredient in most fizzy drinks is a combination of phosphoric and citric acid. These two acids can react chemically with tooth enamel dissolving it. If you consume large quantities of fizzy drinks and frequently, this will result in rapid wear of teeth over a short period of time. Our teeth were never designed for this level of sustained attack.
Most juice drinks, smoothies, energy drinks, sports drinks and flavoured waters are also highly acidic. They contain high amounts of sugars and acids. Lemons, limes and oranges also contain large amounts of natural citric acid. The sugars in these encourage bacteria to produce acids and this will cause tooth decay as well as dental erosion.
After an acid attack the teeth are vulnerable to damage. The acid weakens teeth leaving them soft for up to 20 minutes. It is best to avoid brushing your teeth at this time instead rinsing your mouth water or milk can help neutralize the acid. Your saliva will naturally stabilize the acid but this takes time.
Here are ways to help prevent acid erosion of your teeth.
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