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What is acid erosion and what can you do about it?

Are you constantly drinking sodas or eating sugary fruits? Do you like to enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these, you might have weak tooth enamel.

woman looking at teeth in a mirror

From special toothpastes to dental floss to yearly dental cleanings to whitening strips, most of us spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year doing everything we can to make sure our pearly whites remain, well, just that — pearly white.

But even with so much money spent on protecting our smile, acid erosion is still showing up — even in the cleanest of mouths — because of our dietary choices or underlying medical conditions we might have.

What is it?

Acid erosion is the softening of tooth enamel, caused by everyday items we consume, such as sodas, teas and juices, and from the acid in our stomach. Over time, as it wears away at our teeth, acid causes changes in the shape, texture and colour of teeth. And though brushing your teeth seems like a solution to the problem, it usually makes things worse, because exposure to rough bristles causes softened enamel to erode and become thinner more quickly.

Who’s at risk?

isolated cranberry juice

Anyone with a set of teeth should be wary of the consequences of drinking too many sodas or consuming too many glasses of wine. Individuals who experience acid reflux or who are bulimic are also more affected by acid erosion. Fruit juices too are a concern, so people who frequently sip on juice, like children, might be at higher risk.

Rethink your diet

Diet plays a crucial role in the appearance and overall health of your teeth. But even though most of our favourite foods and beverages — sodas, wines, coffee, fruit — contain acid, you don’t have to stop enjoying them to maintain a healthy smile. Doing simple things — like drinking a glass of milk after every meal to help neutralize the acidity in your mouth, refraining from grazing on sugary snacks all day long and drinking acidic beverages through a straw — can help reduce the effect of acid erosion on your teeth. And consuming dairy products is a great way to neutralize acidity in your mouth, so stock up on calcium-rich foods to keep your teeth strong.

What can you do to stop it?

Acid naturally occurs in our bodies, so there’s no way to completely get rid of it from our mouths. But there are ways to help minimize the amount that lingers in our mouths. Taking such simple steps such as rinsing your mouth with water after having acidic beverages or snacks, drinking through straws, brushing your teeth an hour after eating and eating foods that help counteract acidity are ways to protect your tooth enamel without giving up your favourite tasty treats.

More on dental health

What you need to know about acidic foods
Tips for enjoying acidic foods
Tips to protect your enamel

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