Everyone knows that sugar can damage your teeth. But do you know how sugar does its damage? The actual culprit isn’t sugar itself, but the acid it produces. When you eat that sugary snack, bacteria in the mouth feed off of the sugars, creating acid that eats away tooth enamel.
Acid can come from a variety of foods besides sugary snacks and candy, including soft drinks (even diet soda), wine, fruit juice, and citrus fruits. Stomach acid entering the mouth, whether through vomiting or acid reflux, can also cause serious tooth damage. If you notice that your teeth are discolored, cracked, or translucent around the edges, you may be seeing signs of tooth erosion. Acid damaged teeth also may start to look rounded, “sand-blasted,” cupped, or dented.
The good news is that your mouth is constantly working to fight acid damage to your teeth. Your saliva contains minerals like calcium and phosphates that naturally help repair your teeth. However, your saliva can’t save your teeth singlehandedly. Here are some things you can do to minimize acid damage.
- Cut down on sugar and soda. Though it may be hard, reducing your intake of candy, sugary snacks, and soft drinks will pay off in the long run. Try replacing these with dairy products like milk, cheese, or yogurt, which contain calcium and phosphates that strengthen teeth.
- Use a straw. If you do have an acidic soda or other beverage, drink with a straw to prevent the drink from making contact with your teeth. Never swish the drink.
- Save acidic foods for mealtimes so you can eat them alongside other foods instead of alone as snacks. This can reduce their contact with your teeth, and other non-acidic foods can help neutralize the acidic ones, as well as encouraging saliva production.
- Wash your food down with water. Drinking water along with or after an acidic food can help wash it out of your mouth more quickly.
- Don’t brush right away. Though it might sound counterintuitive, brushing after eating acidic foods can actually increase tooth erosion, since acid softens your enamel and brushing can wear it away even further. Try waiting at least half an hour after consuming something acidic to brush your teeth.
- Stop stomach acid from entering the mouth. If you have acid reflux or an eating disorder that involves frequent vomiting, seek medical help so that these conditions can be cured and stop interfering with your health.
Regular dental checkups and cleaning are also essential to preventing and catching tooth decay before it progresses too far. For excellent preventive dentistry in Naperville, contact Sherman Oaks Dental and let us help you care for your teeth.