Though many beverages are the main culprits in acid erosion of tooth enamel, acidic foods also play a large role. Indulge in your favourite treats in a safe and healthy way with the help of these simple tips.
One of the biggest health concerns that comes with ingesting acidic foods is the damage they can do to your mouth, which deals with high acidity on a regular basis.
The enamel that covers and protects your teeth is particularly vulnerable to the acid erosion caused by many of your favourite foods, such as fruit. So what can you do to keep your teeth safe while enjoying your favourite foods?
Cleanse with water
Because pure water has a neutral pH level, it can be a huge help in maintaining the health of your teeth. Dentist Dr. Judy Sturm of Dr. Judy Sturm & Associates suggests enjoying your meal with a glass of water to neutralize the acids and flush away debris. Rinsing after a particularly acidic meal or snack is also a good idea.
Make it quick
If you enjoy sucking on lemons or orange slices, be careful. Fully emerging your teeth in acids for extended periods can really weaken your enamel. We all have our guilty pleasures, but if this one is yours, you might want to cut back. Sturm suggests switching to a low-acid or watered-down fruit juice rather than eating the fruit itself, and sipping it through a straw.
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Wait to brush
Many people who are eager to maintain the health of their teeth are quick to brush after each and every meal. Although they have the best of intentions, doing so could actually do more harm than good. After you consume foods with high levels of acidity, such as a bowl of fruit or a salad with vinegar dressing, tooth enamel is softened, explains Dr. Sturm. So if you take a hard toothbrush to them, you might actually contribute to enamel erosion. She advises waiting at least an hour after your acidic meal to brush your teeth, and use a soft or electric toothbrush.
Keep an eye out
Unfortunately once enamel is chipped or eroded, it can’t repair itself, explains Sturm. So the best thing you can do is to know the signs of enamel erosion so you can seek help before too much damage is done. Smooth, shiny surfaces, rough edges and sensitivity to hot or cold could indicate the thinning of enamel and are worth getting checked out. Our teeth come into contact with potentially damaging foods for us to survive, but when you’re armed with knowledge, you can ensure that food does no harm.
Chew some gum
According to Sturm, current research shows that chewing xylitol-added, sugar-free gum reduces the amount of acid left behind from foods and increases saliva flow, which washes away leftover food particles in your mouth. So open up a stick and chomp away after your next acidic food or snack.