Summer is just around the corner and lots of us will be eating new healthy diets. We’re now far more educated and aware of the damage sugar can cause our teeth and we are much better at recognising foods with hidden sugars such as tomato ketchup, cereals or dried fruit.
However, healthy living has introduced a new type of damage to our tooth enamel: Acid Erosion or Tooth Wear.
This condition is on the rise and as many as one in three under 35s are showing signs of Acid Wear. It’s being directly linked with healthier diets however, far from discouraging healthier lifestyles, it’s important we learn how to protect our enamel where possible by making a few simple changes and following advice given by our dental professionals.
How do you recognise Acid Erosion?
- Thinning enamel with chips and/or rounded edges.
- Translucent tips.
- Yellowing of the teeth.
- Increased sensitivity.
To help prevent and minimise Acid Wear we must first identify the causes and make changes to stop the problem. If you feel like you show any of the signs listed above talk to your dental professional and they will be able to give you advice.
What might be causing your Acid Wear?
- Fruits (especially citrus fruits).
- Carbonated drinks – including sports drinks alcopops or ‘fizzy water’ and diet drinks.
- Fruit teas or lemon water.
- Salad dressings especially vinaigrettes.
- Fruits juices.
This is not an exhaustive list, many foods may cause Acid Wear. If you’re concerned then identifying things with a low ph is key, your dentist will be able to help you with this. The lower the number, the more acidic the food or drink and the more damage it will do to your enamel. Anything with a ph lower than 5.5 is considered harmful to your teeth.
So how can we enjoy healthier foods and minimise the risks to our enamel?
- Limit acid attacks (frequency of eating acidic foods) to less than four per day.
- Drink acidic/fizzy drinks through a straw.
- Enjoy acidic foods and drinks only at meal times.
- Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva to help neutralise acid after meals.
- Consider cheese or milk at the end of meals to help neutralise acids.
- Twice daily use of fluoride toothpaste with 1450ppm of fluoride (1000ppm for those under three).
- REMEMBER: Spit don’t rinse after brushing so you don’t wash beneficial fluoride away.
- Avoid brushing for an hour after meals to allow teeth to recover from acid attack and prevent causing extra damage.
It’s also important to see your dental professional regularly as they are key in spotting signs of Acid Wear, helping identify causes and monitoring changes in your enamel. If you’re concerned, ask your dentist for further advice and consider a diet diary to help identify if you may be consuming too many acidic foods.
Fran started her career in dentistry qualifying as a dental nurse in 2005 and from this she gained her qualifications in orthodontic nursing and dental radiography.
Aspiring to take a more active role in patient care, Fran undertook a degree in Dental Hygiene and Therapy qualifying with first-class honours in 2015. As a Dental Therapist, her role includes carrying out preventive and restorative treatments for both adults and children.
She’s passionate in periodontal care and provides a holistic caring approach to her patients. In 2016 she had a paper published in the British Dental Hygiene Therapy annual journal.