Improper consumption of acidic foods could lead to destroyed enamel

June 25, 2007

Fruit, yogurt, citric and soft drinks, may seem like harmless snacks and beverages, but improper consumption and overuse may lead to devastating and permanent damage to teeth. It’s known as tooth erosion, the break down of tooth structure caused by the effect of acid on the teeth that leads to decay.

According to David Bartlett, BDS, PhD, who will lead a discussion at the Academy of General Dentistry’s 55th annual meeting in San Diego, June 27-July 1, 2007, titled, “Acid Erosion-Why is it Important to My Patients?”, “Early diagnosis and prevention of the effects of tooth erosion are fundamental to keeping teeth healthy for life.”

“Sipping or holding acidic drinks in the mouth before swallowing increases the risk of erosion on dental enamel,” says Dr. Bartlett. Dental enamel is the thin, outer layer of hard tissue that helps maintain the tooth's structure and shape while protecting it from decay.

Soft drinks, which contain acids, break the tooth surfaces. These acids also damage tooth enamel over time by dissolving the mineral structure of teeth, thinning the teeth. Eventually, because of repeated exposure to acid, the tooth’s enamel will lose its shape and color and as the damage progresses; the underlying dentin, (which is the tissue that makes up the core of each tooth), becomes exposed causing the teeth to look yellow.

To prevent tooth erosion, Dr. Bartlett advises patients who eat or drink an acidic food or beverage to wait at least 20 minutes before brushing the teeth so as not to destroy the weakened enamel. He also suggests eating acidic foods within five minutes, instead of snacking on them throughout the day, and eating these foods just during meal times in order to minimize the amount of time the acid is on the teeth.

Also, frequently consuming and continual snacking of foods with a low pH (potential of hydrogen) value, such as fruit juices, pickles, fresh fruit, yogurt, honey and raisins can lead to irreversible dental erosion. It is important to also beware of habits such as lemon-sucking and swishing soda in the mouth. Doing this extends the amount of time that enamel and dentin are exposed to the acids and can increase the structural damage. But eating fruit as part of a balanced diet is good. Dr Bartlett says, “It’s not what you eat and drink that is important its how you consume acidic food”.

Dr. Bartlett also encourages patients to talk to their dentist about the use of dentin bonding to help prevent tooth erosion, a procedure he will share with attendees during his course at the AGD’s annual meeting. Dentin bonding is when the dentist paints a very thin layer (about the thickness of plastic cling film) which is painted on the surfaces of teeth showing signs of erosion. “Together, with dietary advice and daily desensitizing toothpaste, the aim is to prevent and treat early or moderate signs of erosion on the teeth,” says Dr. Bartlett. Early signs of tooth erosion consist of dentin hypersensitivity. In other words, if hot or cold foods and beverages cause pain or sensitivity this is an indication of tooth erosion. Dentists may also recommend daily use of an OTC fluoridated anti-hypersensitivity toothpaste with a neutral pH to help re-harden softened tooth enamel.

Source: Academy of General Dentistry

Explore further: Sipping hot fruit teas can lead to tooth erosion

Related Stories

Sipping hot fruit teas can lead to tooth erosion

February 26, 2018
An investigation by scientists at King's College London into why some people suffer tooth erosion while others don't has found that it's not just what they eat and drink, but how they eat and drink, that increases their chances ...

Teeth hold the key to early diagnosis of eating disorders

March 2, 2018
Dentists can play a key role in the detection of health conditions including anorexia nervosa, bulimia and Gastro-Oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD), according to research from King's College London.

Human ancestors had the same dental problems as us – even without fizzy drinks and sweets

March 2, 2018
Dental erosion is one of the most common tooth problems in the world today. Fizzy drinks, fruit juice, wine, and other acidic food and drink are usually to blame, although perhaps surprisingly the way we clean our teeth also ...

Do girls have stronger teeth than boys?

January 10, 2018
What if you hardly ever consume soft drinks or eat anything acidic, but still have dental erosion on your teeth? Do genes play a role? And does it matter if you are a boy or a girl?

Social anxiety increases the risk of bruxism, tooth erosion, and jaw pain

May 5, 2015
Anxiety disorders affect approximately one in six adult Americans, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The most well-known of these include panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive ...

Think before you drink: Erosion of tooth enamel from soda pop is permanent

August 7, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—You may be saving calories by drinking diet soda, but when it comes to enamel erosion of your teeth, it's no better than regular soda.

Recommended for you

Best of Last Year—The top Medical Xpress articles of 2017

December 20, 2017
It was a good year for medical research as a team at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, found that dancing can reverse the signs of aging in the brain. Any exercise helps, the team found, but dancing ...

Pickled in 'cognac', Chopin's heart gives up its secrets

November 26, 2017
The heart of Frederic Chopin, among the world's most cherished musical virtuosos, may finally have given up the cause of his untimely death.

Sugar industry withheld evidence of sucrose's health effects nearly 50 years ago

November 21, 2017
A U.S. sugar industry trade group appears to have pulled the plug on a study that was producing animal evidence linking sucrose to disease nearly 50 years ago, researchers argue in a paper publishing on November 21 in the ...

Female researchers pay more attention to sex and gender in medicine

November 7, 2017
When women participate in a medical research paper, that research is more likely to take into account the differences between the way men and women react to diseases and treatments, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.