Acid Effects on Enamel and How to Prevent Them

It's hard to stop and wonder what acid effects can do to your teeth's enamel when you're sitting on your porch with a relaxing glass of lemonade. But consuming highly acidic foods and drinks every day can harm the teeth without the right aftercare. Foods like citrus fruit, which you might eat and/or drink on a regular basis, can eventually cause tooth enamel to wear away. This is what leads to things like dental erosion and tooth sensitivity.

When They Say 'Demineralization'

Demineralization is the gradual loss of minerals from the enamel, and takes place specifically when your mouth's pH level falls to 5.7, according to RDH Magazine. The bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and produce acids that dissolve these minerals. The enamel can actually become soft when it demineralizes – at which point, it allows bacteria to penetrate deeper into the tooth, eventually causing cavities to form.

When the enamel starts to wear down, your teeth are more prone to the decay that leads to cavities. Your teeth may become more sensitive as a result, reacting harshly to hot or cold foods, drinks and sweets. To avoid any further breakdown in the enamel, it's wise to monitor your diet for these erosion-causing foods.

Signs of Tooth Erosion

Tooth erosion doesn't present itself to you that obviously, or even the same way each time. Some common symptoms include:

  • Sensitivity — Hot and cold foods, strongly-flavored sweets and even cold air can produce sensitivity when in contact with your teeth.
  • Discoloration — Your teeth might appear slightly yellower on the surface as your enamel becomes thinner, exposing the dull-colored dentin beneath it.
  • Rounded teeth — Teeth may also appear to have softer or sanded edges, or as if there are small dents along the chewing surface.
  • Transparency — The edges of your incisors (front teeth) may lessen in opacity, looking as if you can see through them.
  • Cracks — Tiny faults or a sharpness along the edges of the teeth are also common.

Preventing Acid Erosion

As irritating as it is, rest assured that many people suffer from erosion in their tooth enamel, and there are numerous ways to prevent the acid effects that lead to the above conditions. Brushing your teeth twice a day with Colgate Total® Daily Repair toothpaste will help to remove food and plaque and remineralize the protective enamel before it wears away completely. Make sure to floss daily, as well, to remove any debris from in between the teeth.

Sensitivity may already make you avoid its temperature, but avoid chewing ice, as it can weaken the tooth enamel. Consider using a fluoride mouthwash that has enamel-protecting properties as well. And for reasons beyond enamel health, make a point of eating a varied diet – especially one with foods that are high in calcium and minerals.

Cut back on acidic foods such as sodas, fruit juices, tomatoes, oranges, limes, grapefruits, lemons and red wine – all of which can assist in dental erosion in excess. After all, isn't your healthy smile worth it?

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Tips for a Healthy Diet

  • Foods high in sugar are a particularly common cause of tooth decay. Making these foods a treat rather than a staple will help protect your teeth.

  • To maintain a balanced diet, eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups.

  • When choosing a snack, go for nutritious foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or a piece of fruit.