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Unsuspicious foods that cause tooth enamel erosion

At some point your dentist has likely warned you of the damage certain foods can do to your teeth. We share some surprising culprits of tooth enamel erosion that you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure the health of your teeth.

lemon peel

Keep an eye on these

insidious

hazards

At some point your dentist has likely warned you of the damage certain foods can do to your teeth. We share some surprising culprits of tooth enamel erosion you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure the health of your teeth.

What is tooth enamel erosion?

Dentist Dr. Judy Sturm explains that enamel is the thin outer layer covering the portion of your teeth that are visible in your mouth — it is actually the hardest tissue in the human body. This tough layer is meant to protect your teeth from daily hardships, such as grinding, chewing and food consumption. But when it chips, breaks or erodes, it can’t repair itself. Damaged enamel can lead to the appearance of yellow teeth, rough edges prone to further chipping or cracking and sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks. Certain foods and drinks can play a large role in enamel erosion, but which items should you keep an eye out for?

Beverages of all kinds

Tasty, refreshing and energy-boosting beverages are a major part of our regular diets. Think about just how often you enjoy your favourite drinks throughout the day. Coffee with breakfast, a pop or juice with lunch and wine before dinner are all common components of our daily lives. Unfortunately many of these drinks — wines, fruit juices, energy drinks and pops (both diet and regular) — have high acidity levels that can wear away enamel, Dr. Sturm explains. Furthermore, bacteria thrive on the sugar in these beverages, which can also contribute to the wearing away of enamel.

Most fruits

pomegranate

You’ve likely been told of all the health benefits of fruits and therefore wouldn’t think twice about their being good for you. Although natural fruits are nutritious, their high levels of citric, malic or tartaric acid can be harmful to your tooth enamel. Plums, pomegranates, grapes, lemons and limes are highly acidic, and regular consumption without proper dental care could be harmful to your dental health.

What you need to know about mouth maintenance >>

Many condiments

jam isolated

A lot of the condiments you likely enjoy on a regular basis can also be risk factors when it comes to enamel erosion. Fruit-based treats, such as jellies, jams and lemon juice, are highly acidic, as are vinegar-based items, such as salad dressings, pickles and ketchup. It’s hard to believe such common spreads, snacks and sauces could be damaging your teeth without your knowing, but it’s better to be aware sooner rather than later.

Other causes

Unfortunately it isn’t just acidic foods you have to contend with to prevent tooth enamel erosion. Dr. Sturm explains that environmental factors, such as grinding, clenching or using a hard toothbrush aggressively, can chip away at enamel. In addition, such health conditions as acid reflux can cause acid to come up and damage enamel, while dry mouth leads to a decrease in salivary flow and therefore a reduction in the mouth’s ability to neutralize acids and wash away leftover food particles. Bulimia, alcoholism and other sources of frequent vomiting can have damaging effects on tooth enamel as well.

What can you do?

You might feel a little overwhelmed by learning some of your favourite foods and drinks could be damaging your dental health, but don’t despair. You don’t have to give up the treats you love to take care of your teeth. Dr. Sturm suggests rinsing your mouth with water after having a highly acidic meal or beverage as well as brushing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste an hour after eating to strengthen and protect the health of your teeth. If erosion does occur, such treatments as specially formulated toothpastes, fluoride varnishes or bonding might be necessary. Speak to your dentist to find out more about keeping your teeth safe from enamel erosion.

More on dental health

Brush up on healthy dental care habits
On-the-go dental hygiene: Stay fresh all day long
Common dental issues and how to solve them

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