How Acidic Foods Affect Teeth and Which to Avoid

When families gear up to indulge in their favorite foods during the holiday season, tradition often puts numerous acidic foods on the dinner table. If they're on yours, do you know what they can do to your teeth? There are numerous types of foods that fall into this category.

Foods to Avoid

Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes and similarly common fruit items are as acidic as they are healthy, which is why it's important to consume them with water to ensure they don't harm your enamel. However, these products aren't the only foods out there known for their low pH level. Others include:

  • Pickles
  • Cranberries
  • Tomato products (pasta sauce, ketchup, salsa, hot sauce)
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol (wine)

Why They Hurt

When the acids in the foods you eat and drink cause tooth enamel to wear away, teeth can become discolored as a result. And when tooth enamel weakens in this way, demineralization has started to occur – leaving your teeth's dentin exposed and prone to sensitivity. Brushing after a meal is generally a good idea, but avoid doing so right after consuming acidic foods. Acid softens your enamel, and brushing too soon will only speed up tooth wear before the enamel has time to settle again. Unfortunately, demineralization can lead to tooth decay.

How to Lessen Dental Erosion

Try eating any acidic foods alongside foods that have a higher pH level, and are therefore low in acidity. Some of these foods include nuts, cheese, oatmeal, mangos, melons, bananas, apples, eggs, vegetables, brown rice and whole grains. Fish and lean meats also have low levels of acid. These foods may actually help protect your tooth enamel, giving you a nice double benefit. They do this by neutralizing acids in otherwise acidic saliva, and by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to put minerals back in the teeth.

Prevention

See your dental professional twice a year for dental cleanings, which play an important role in maintaining your oral health by helping to identify dental erosion in its early stages. If there is a need, they can counsel you on making healthy dietary choices to stop dental erosion if your eating habits are contributing. Outside the dental chair, keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water so saliva can cleanse your mouth of these acids regularly. Use a fluoride toothpaste, such as Colgate® Enamel Health Whitening, which can help to repair tooth enamel and reduce your risk of decay. Keep in mind that according to the American Dental Association (ADA) fluoride furthers the remineralization of the tooth enamel. Swishing with a fluoride mouthwash will also help to lessen the severity of dental erosion. Be sure to floss once a day in your daily oral health routine, too.

Don't overlook the little things behind your daily routine, either. Chewing sugar-free gum can increase saliva flow, allowing it to neutralize acids and help teeth to stay strong. After all, a healthy mouth will only help you enjoy your favorite cuisine!

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.

Keep your teeth clean with an oral health routine.

Establishing an oral health routine is important for a healthy mouth. Try one of our oral health products to help you establish a schedule.