Surprisingly, even those on a healthy diet are prone to acid wear on their teeth. Acid wear can make your teeth more sensitive to temperatures. It can also make your teeth more prone to decay. Fortunately there are ways you can protect your pearly whites.
Watching What You Drink
1- Lay off the wine. Wine is highly acidic (both red and white), which of course wears on the enamel of your teeth. If it is a sweet wine there is also a significant amount of sugar in it. The combination of these is not a good thing for teeth.
2- Cut out soft drinks. High in sugar and carbonated with enamel weakening CO2, soft drinks are one of those dietary disasters that provide nothing positive and are detrimental on many levels. Their high acid content strips enamel from teeth like paint thinner removing layers of paint.
Corrosive acids like phosphoric, malic, citric, and tartaric are the culprits. Clear, citrus-flavored bubbly beverages are pinpointed as the worst, dissolving enamel at a staggering 2-5 times more than colas.
3- Run from sports drinks. Studies have shown sports drinks are even worse for your teeth than soft drinks or energy drinks. They contain large amounts of citric acid, sugar, and caffeine, not only damaging tooth enamel but the roots as well.
4- Limit fruit juices. While some fruit juices and most if not all fresh squeezed juices contain a great many vitamins, they also contain a lot of natural sugars and most are high in acid content. Even OJ, the least acidic and whose processed juice is often fortified with calcium and vitamin D, should be followed up immediately with a good rinsing.
- Cold pressed juices often have other juices that even out the alkaline so that they are not nearly as harmful to your teeth. Make sure, however, that you check before buying so you can be sure to do what’s best for your teeth.
5- Avoid diuretic drinks. These beverages, including caffeine and alcohol, cause dehydration which in turn lowers the beneficial effects of saliva. As saliva serves to protect the enamel of teeth (by creating a mineralized coating which is also a pH neutralizer), this in turn exposes teeth to damage they normally would easily avoid.
1- Don’t eat candy. While obvious it must be stated again: candy is not good for you or your teeth. High in sugar, it’s also sticky so it seals that sugar directly to your teeth, and your saliva turns those sugars to acids. Add in the fact it has no healthy benefits whatsoever and it’s easy to see why candy should be cut from your diet.
2- Pass up vinegar-based salad dressings. This is particularly true for children and teenagers, whose enamel is not yet mature and therefore even more susceptible to the erosion caused by the acid content of vinegar. Regardless of age, after eating foods containing vinegar it’s a great idea to wash your mouth out afterwards.
- Also look to avoid vinegar in places you might not consider right away, such as potato chips, sauces (especially hot sauces), and pickles. Pickles may be the worst offenders as they contain vinegar AND sugar.
3- Rinse after eating fruit. Grapefruit and lemons are the worst offenders among fresh citrus fruits due to their higher acid content. Perhaps even worse, however, are dried fruits. Not only are they high in sugars but their fibrous biology causes them to stick to teeth, wedging that sugar and acid into the cracks, crevices, and porous surfaces of teeth.
- Don’t forget that tomatoes are a fruit. They also have a high acid content and can damage enamel both raw and as a sauce. Your best bet is to eat them as part of a meal so that you can enjoy their flavor and nutrients while cutting down on their acidity levels.
- Some citrus fruit each day shouldn’t be a problem — these fruits, after all, have a great many benefits. Just be conscious of how much you are eating and try to notice any affects on your teeth.
4- Reduce carbohydrates. Saliva breaks down carbs while you chew, turning them into enamel-eroding acid. Even healthy carbs like brown rice, whole-grains, and sweet potatoes are flagrant perpetrators. White carbohydrates are even worse — they are the most incriminated factors that produce cavities. Carbohydrates also tend to get stuck in teeth and continue to wear down enamel all day long, developing aggressive bacterial sites.
5- Practice balanced eating patterns. For example, eat something that counterbalances the acidity of fruit, such as nuts, at the time of eating the fruit. This will turn enamel-wearing acids into friendly bases in your mouth, sparing your teeth the wear-and-tear.
6- Stay away from processed snack foods. Most snack foods are carbohydrates in one form or another, contain sugar, and some of them are also acidic due to the presence of vinegar or other additives. So in addition to being, basically, devoid of nutritional value they also wear out the enamel on your teeth.
7- Avoid grazing through the day. If you enjoy nibbling on food all day long, you may be endangering your teeth. The best solution is to ensure that the foods that you consume are either low in acidity or are combined with foods able to counteract the acidity and reduce your need for the acidic food.
- For example, consuming nuts or cheese with fruit may be one way to reduce the effects of acid wear. Nuts and dairy foods are considered helpful balancers to acidic foods.
Caring for Your Teeth
1- Drink water in small amounts at regular intervals. Water is a much healthier alternative to processed drinks. In addition to helping keep your tooth enamel protected (as it is non-acidic and keeps your mouth in an alkaline state), it is great for hydration, clear skin, digestion, and delivers a host of other healthy benefits.
2- Time your brushing effectively. Avoid brushing your teeth for one hour after consuming acidic food or drink. While this may seem counter-intuitive, acidic foods and drinks soften the tooth enamel and leave it prone to damage from brushing. After an hour, saliva will restore lost minerals and re-harden enamel.
3- Stop over-brushing your teeth. Too much brushing or brushing too hard or incorrectly is abrasive and wears down your teeth. Plaque is relatively soft and could be removed with a cloth if you could reach every crack and crevice with one. Be gentle on your teeth.
- Use proper tooth brushing technique. At a 45-degree angle, brush up and down in short strokes. Rely on dental floss and toothpicks in between morning and evening brushing. Be sure to throw your toothbrush away once it starts to show wear; the tips become jagged and can harm tooth enamel and gums.
- Alternate your electric toothbrush with a manual one as the electric ones tend to scrub the surface harder due to an increased number of movements.
4- Rinse your mouth with baking soda. To reduce the acidity in your mouth, regularly rinse thoroughly and gargle with a spoonful of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) in water.
5- Use a straw. Reduce the contact of juice and soda drinks with your teeth by drinking through a straw. This is only a minor improvement so don’t rely on it as a major solution. Sometimes, however, something is better than nothing.