How to Prevent Tooth Erosion
Preventing tooth erosion begins with diet and care of the teeth. Enamel does not grow back; it does not regenerate itself, so responding to early signs of tooth erosion is important. However, existing enamel can be strengthened, and the minerals needed for this are in your saliva and a good fluoride rinse or toothpaste. Here are the best ways to prevent tooth erosion.
Avoid the Acid
Acid is measured on the pH scale, with low numbers being the most acidic and high being the least. Lemons and vinegar would be on the low end of the pH scale, so that would make them highly acidic among edible items. The easiest way to prevent tooth erosion is to avoid drinking a lot of high-acid (low pH) fruit and carbonated drinks and to avoid eating a lot of high-acid foods. Of course how “easy” that is depends on how much one enjoys apple juice, diet soda or pickles. Given that those foods may be a big part of life, total avoidance isn’t realistic. But if signs of tooth erosion are beginning to show up, diet adjustments may be necessary.
If you do love your daily regimen of soda, there are still things you can do to help lessen the acidic risk to your teeth. Drinking with a straw will move the acid past your teeth and into your throat. Anything that limits the physical contact of beverage and teeth is naturally going to be a positive. At the very least, do not swish fruit drinks and sodas around in your mouth like you would a mouthwash. Rinsing some water around in your mouth after a soda, however, will help to dilute the acid. Milk or cheese after a meal can also balance out the pH in your saliva.
Acidic foods include fruits, squash, yogurts, pickles and vinegary items. Of course you should not avoid these healthy foods. Fruit is good for you! But again, brushing teeth or rinsing the mouth is important to prevent tooth erosion. People who snack a lot during the course of a day are at an elevated risk because their mouths are essentially taking on some food acid or another all day long. Acidic food can be a double-whammy for some because stomach issues, including acid reflux, can bring gastric acids up into the throat and mouth, and these can be harsh on the teeth. People whose stomach issues lead to regular vomiting can experience accelerated erosion.
Mind the Regimen
There are definitely times when you may need the vitamins and sugars a fruit drink supplies; but if you are in a situation where you know you are not going to be able to brush your teeth for awhile, go for the water to promote healthier teeth. Make sure you are brushing before bedtime and not giving acidic food or drink a chance to work on your teeth while you dream the night away. It is recommended, though, that immediately after consuming a sports drink or acidic beverage, you give your saliva an hour or so to restore the pH balance before brushing. Use a soft-bristled brush. Flossing is key also, because we all know bits of fruit find some of the cleverest ways to get stuck in between teeth. Chewing sugarless gum is also a good way to keep your natural saliva active and to clean the teeth at the same time. If you are sick and cannot keep food down, tooth erosion may not be at the top list of your problems, but do rinse your mouth out with some water if possible. Gastric acid has a very low pH, so it is highly acidic.
Talk to your Dentist
Be sure to let her know any temperature sensitivities your teeth are experiencing. She can look at your teeth and tell if erosion is an issue. If enough enamel is worn away, bonding or crowns may be discussed, but if there is still enamel, she may have a suggestion to prevent tooth erosion with diet and regimen adjustments.