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Protecting tooth enamel: Focus on how, not what, you eat

Sarah Kelsey is a lifestyle writer, editor and spokesperson based in Toronto. She was the editor of AOL/The Huffington Post Canada’s StyleList, Style and Living sites. Today, she's a freelancer writing for some of North America’s top pub...

You don't have to cut out acidic foods

From SheKnows Canada
Of course you don't want to damage your teeth's enamel, but how can you ensure your mouth stays in tip-top shape without completely altering your diet and cutting out foods you love? It's as simple as learning how to eat in a more mouth-friendly way. Here are some tips and tricks.

woman with big smile

Drink lots of water in between meals

Dehydration is one of the most common causes of excess acid in the body, so one of the easiest ways to counteract the damaging effects that eating an acidic food has on tooth enamel is to drink lots of water — especially between meals. Water has a neutral pH, meaning it's neither acidic nor alkaline. When your body is properly hydrated, it will be in a "neutral" state. It does, however, matter when you drink your H2O. Avoid sipping any liquid immediately before, during or after dinner. This will give your stomach acid time to break down and digest food and will limit your risk of developing acid reflux.

Pair acidic foods with alkaline foods

banana

Instead of giving up spicy foods to protect your tooth enamel, the key is to pair particularly damaging foods with those that are alkaline (meaning over 7 on the pH scale). For example, avoid drinking coffee or pop when eating fruits or certain vegetables. Eat a banana daily (which is one of the most body-alkalinizing foods out there), and never pair alcohol with raw vegetables (like onions or cabbage).

Don't brush your teeth after eating an acidic food

tooth and toothbrush

Because acidic foods soften the teeth's enamel on contact, one of the worst things you can do after consuming a particularly harsh substance is to brush your teeth. This is when the surface of your teeth is at its softest and most vulnerable, so brushing is likely to lead to damage. Wait at least an hour after eating before putting a toothbrush to your teeth.

Get quirky

There are a bunch of other quick tricks you can try as ways to limit the amount of acid that ends up being transferred from your food to your teeth. For example, sip sodas or fruit juices with a straw. It will help acid bypass the mouth almost entirely. Rinse your mouth with water (spitting it out after) once you've finished a meal that's highly acidic. This will help remove some of the acid particles from your teeth. And chew gum; the chewing action encourages your mouth to increase saliva production, and saliva protects tooth enamel from erosion.

More on healthy eating

Healthy ways to add flavour to foods
Eat healthy on the cheap
Here's to tea: Drink to your health

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