Laurie DeRosa RDH
Having a diet that is highly acidic can be detrimental to your teeth and consuming acidic foods and drinks throughout the day makes the problem worse . Erosion of the teeth is a type of decay that occurs when the tooth structure is lost due to chemical dissolution by acids. Erosion will start in the enamel, which is the outer layer of the tooth, but can spread to the dentin underneath if left unchecked.
To review, in one of my previous blogs, Understanding pH and Why Alkalinity is Important to Health, I talked about pH and how it is important to have a neutral pH in the mouth for most of the day. A saliva pH of 7.0-7.5 is healthy. Below 7.0 and your mouth becomes acidic and the more time during the day that your mouth is in an acidic state the higher the incidence of erosion. If you have never tested your saliva I highly recommend that you purchase ph strips from your local health food store and periodically test your saliva.
Acidic foods and drinks are the most common cause of erosion. Anything with a pH below 5.7 will begin the process of erosion. The most common chronic disease of children between the ages of five-seventeen is dental erosion. In the case of young children it is usually due to fruit juices, while with teenagers it is from sports drinks and soda. It is the citric acid and phosphoric acid in juice and soda that causes erosion. Other acids that can be erosive are chlorinated swimming pool water and regurgitation of gastric acids.
One of the first signs of dental erosion may be a change in the appearance and sensitivity. The edge of the front teeth may look transparent and the teeth may have a yellowish tint. A common complaint of patients with erosion is increased sensitivity when eating anything hot, cold or sweet. This is because the enamel is wearing away and exposing the dentin.
5 easy steps to avoid teeth erosion are:
1. Avoid fruit juices and sodas, however, if you are going to indulge do not sip throughout the day, just have one and be done. Less acidity more frequently does greater damage to teeth than more acidity consumed less frequently.
2. Rinse with water after consumption of acidic foods or drinks.
3. Buy some test strips and check the ph of your saliva.
4. Know which foods are highly acidic and eat in moderation: jams, jellies, dairy products, vinegar, salt, sugar, ice cream, yeast, beef products, white rice, white bread, etc.
5. Rinse with baking soda and water at night to help bring your saliva back to neutral.
REMEMBER THE LOWER THE pH NUMBER, THE MORE ACIDIC A FOOD OR A DRINK IS AND THE MORE HARMFUL IT IS TO YOUR TOOTH ENAMEL, so please protect your teeth.
Laurie DeRosa RDH is a Registered Dental Hygienist with the biological dentistry group at National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, an integrative medicine and dental center serving the Washington DC metro area. Using the latest in dental technology, her goal is to help the dental patient understand the important connection between oral health and their overall health.