A chemical substance that neutralizes alkalis, dissolves some metals, and turns litmus red; typically, a corrosive or sour-tasting liquid.
If acids can eat through metal, imagine what they can do to your teeth.
Despite how many people treat their teeth, the teeth are not invincible. Yes, they are made up of the hardest substance in the human body, but teeth can still crack, break, and are vulnerable to decay. What you choose to put into your mouth on a regular basis has a direct impact on your teeth: it will either benefit your teeth or put them in harm’s way.
Acid erosion is a damaging occurrence that literally eats away at the tooth enamel. Certain foods and beverages contain a much higher percentage of acids than others, and knowing which ones pose threats to your teeth will help you make wise, healthy choices regarding your smile. Carbonated beverages, alcoholic beverages, coffee, tea, citrus fruits, pickled vegetables, and tomatoes are among the biggest culprits in terms of acidity. Consuming too much of any of these can cause lasting, irreparable damage to your teeth.
One of the most damaging things that you can put into your mouth in terms of acid erosion is a carbonated beverage. Carbonated beverages are extremely acidic, and a case study published in the March /April 2013 issue of General Dentistry stated that the erosive effects of soda (carbonated soft drinks) consumption is similar to the damage caused by methamphetamine and crack cocaine. In fact, carbonated beverages are so acidic that many EMTs use dark soft drinks to clean blood off asphalt after a car accident. In addition, many mechanics use carbonated beverages to clean battery acid off a car battery, and millions of people pour soft drinks into their toilets to clean them. If carbonated beverages are this acidic, just imagine the damage that they are doing to your teeth if you consume them on a regular basis.
Acidic foods such as citrus fruits, including tomatoes, pickled vegetables, and fruit juices contain natural acids. While these acids are “natural,” they can still be harmful to your teeth, especially if you consume a lot of them. This is one reason why pediatricians and dentists recommend diluting fruit juice that is given to children. Even though fruits and veggies are healthy, moderation is key when it comes to all dietary choices. Water is the best “natural” choice for hydration.
Alcohol, tea, and coffee are also damaging to the teeth when over-consumption is allowed. Coffee, alcohol, and tea mix with the bacteria inside the mouth to create acids that lead to tooth erosion, cavities, and brittle teeth. These beverages all have a much higher acid content than dairy and water. As acids react to the enamel of the teeth, they weaken the enamel, leaving it more susceptible to chipping, cracking, becoming translucent, becoming sensitive, and being more cavity-prone.
The most important thing you can do to protect your teeth from erosion is to limit your consumption of highly acidic foods and beverages. Other measures that you can take to protect your teeth include:
- Drinking carbonated beverages with a straw
- Drinking your acidic beverage in one sitting instead of slowly sipping it throughout the day
- Rinse the mouth out with water after consumption of a highly acidic food or beverage
- Having your dentist apply fluoride to your teeth at each dental visit
- Waiting to brush your teeth after consuming acidic foods or beverages. After eating or drinking is when your teeth are the most vulnerable to erosion. Wait 30-60 minutes before brushing.
Your oral health is up to you. Only you can control what you put into your mouth, so it is vital that you make good decisions. It is also important that you keep regular dental visits. Your dentist will be able to spot early signs of erosion and help you overcome this damaging effect. At Pure Dental Health, we want to partner with you to achieve a beautiful, healthy smile that will last a lifetime. Contact our practice today to schedule an appointment.
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