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A relatively new problem is becoming apparent in dentistry.  This is ‘wear’ of teeth due to chemical erosion.  This often results in sensitivity of the necks of the teeth to cold and sweet things.  Another common area of tooth surface damage is the inner surfaces of upper teeth in teenagers.

Chemical erosion is the result of acid softening the enamel.  If the teeth are then brushed with an abrasive toothpaste the problem is made worse.  The result is that the “softened” enamel is often “spat” down the sink!

The main types of acid which are dangerous for your teeth are: -

Citric acid                 -           lemons, grapefruit, oranges

Lactic acid                -           yoghurt, fromage frais, cottage cheese

Phosphoric acid     -           Coke, Pepsi, diet Coke, diet Pepsi

Acetic acid               -           vinegar as in oil and vinegar dressing

Malic acid                 -           apples

Oxalic acid               -           rhubarb

It must be remembered that fresh fruit juices are just as dangerous for teeth as fruit juice mixtures e.g., Five Alive.

Why is this happening now?

Many of these fruits and juices formerly were only available in season. With refrigeration these are now available all year round and are doing phenomenal damage to teeth.  An exaggerated emphasis on slimming for ‘health’ reasons has not helped.

Preventive measures:

  1. Limit the number of episodes when acidic foods or drinks are taken. Try to eat all your fruit at one time of the day.
  2. DO NOT clean teeth after taking acidic foods or drinks.
  3. If possible, rinse your mouth with milk or a fluoride mouthwash after eating or drinking acidic foods.
  4. Drink fruit juices through a wide bore straw thus getting the acid past the teeth, and away from the mouth.
  5. Try to avoid diet drinks. If you have them, drink them through a wide bore straw or drink them very quickly to reduce acid contact time

If tooth surface loss is occurring even though there are no observed dietary causes, then we will guide you further.  There are other causes of tooth damage such as medical conditions e.g. acid reflux or anorexia, and chronic alcohol intake.


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