Many adult patients feel that they know how to care for their teeth well enough to prevent serious dental problems. Then unexpectedly, some patients find that their teeth become sensitive and more susceptible to decay with age. Although these patients haven’t changed their oral hygiene habits, they find it difficult to reclaim the strong, resilient teeth they enjoyed as young people.
One common cause of weakening dental enamel is something called acid erosion. Acid erosion can progress undetected for months or years—because acid erosion causes small, incremental changes to the dental structure, these changes often go unnoticed by patients. However, eventually the cumulative effects of acid erosion become noticeable, resulting in tooth sensitivity and cavities.
Acid erosion is caused by acidic foods that slowly wear down dental enamel. Dental enamel is the hard outer shell of the tooth. When we are young our dental enamel is thick and strong, however as the enamel is exposed to acid over time it begins to thin, resulting in a weakened tooth. Consequently the dental enamel becomes less effective at protecting the inner tooth from damage, sensitivity, and infection.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to counteract dental erosion and maintain healthy teeth. Many foods can produce acid on the teeth, and some of the most acidic foods are actually good for you! Substances like fruits and fruit juices are both necessary for a healthy diet and prone to causing acid erosion. Less healthy drinks like soft drinks and wines can also weaken dental enamel.
Since we know that we can’t totally eliminate all acidic foods from a patient’s diet, the goal therefore is to limit the amount of time that the dental enamel is exposed to an acidic substance. Our Glendale dentists have some easy-to-follow recommendations for combating dental erosion:
1. Try to limit unhealthy acidic substances in your diet. Although some acidic substances are necessary—like fruit and fruit juices—others, like soft drinks should be consumed in moderation.
2. When consuming acidic beverages, try to use a straw. With a straw you can drink your favorite drinks while avoiding coating your dental enamel in an acidic substance.
3. Rinse your teeth with water after eating or drinking to neutralize acid.
If you think you may be suffering from acid erosion, make sure to discuss your concerns with your dentist. Only a dental professional can help you create an oral hygiene plan that meets your needs, specifically. Our Glendale dental office is always here to answer your questions or provide more information.