It’s often the case that, in life, we like the things that are bad for us. But, when it comes to protecting your smile, it’s important you understand the foods and drinks that can have an impact on the health of your teeth. The majority of people enjoy drinking fizzy drinks but did you know that your favourite soft drink could be a dental care hazard, causing tooth decay and acid erosion?
This is because most fizzy drinks contain either high levels of sugar or are acidic or both! This can then lead to serious long-term dental problems, which are sometimes irreversible.
Even sparking water and the diet alternatives to your favourite full fat drinks can cause dental erosion.
We’ve taken a look at how and why fizzy drinks can ruin your teeth…
Dental Care 101: What is dental erosion?
Dental erosion occurs when acids found in fizzy drinks attack the tooth, causing enamel loss.
Enamel is the hard protective coating on the tooth, which protects the sensitive dentine underneath. So, when acid erosion occurs, it causes the dentine underneath to become exposed, which can lead to pain and increased levels of sensitivity.
How do I know if I have dental erosion?
Erosion is pretty easy to spot as you’ll begin to notice hollows and wearing on the surface of your teeth. Erosion also exposes the dentine underneath your teeth, which is a dark yellow colour. It is the exposure of the dentine that can make your teeth sensitive to hot, cold, and acidic foods and drinks. The sensitivity can be persistent and you may experience a low grade or dull toothache.
What causes dental erosion?
Each time you eat or drink something containing high levels of acid, your teeth will become increasingly susceptible to acid erosion – the enamel on your teeth will become much softer and will even lose some of its mineral content. And, although your saliva will slowly cancel out the acidity in your mouth in a bid to return it to its natural balance, your mouth does not have a chance to repair itself fully.
This means that, over time, you’ll begin to lose the surface of your teeth.
How can my diet help prevent dental erosion?
Your diet is essential when it comes to dental care and maintaining a healthy and attractive smile – so always make smart choices!
As a general rule, you should try and avoid foods and drinks containing high levels of acid. Acidity is measured by its ‘PH value’ and anything that has a PH value lower than 5.5 can harm your teeth.
Water is still one the of the best drinks for maintaining the health of your teeth. Milk is also a good option as this helps to cancel out the acids in your mouth.
What can I do to prevent dental erosion?
The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to prevent dental erosion including:
- If you are not able to give up your favourite acidic foods and drinks, a good compromise is to only have them at meal times as this will reduce the number of acidic attacks on your teeth
- Drink quickly – swishing or holding your drink in your mouth for prolonged periods of time can increase the chances of the acid attacking your teeth. Using a straw will help the drink to go straight to the back of your mouth!
- Chew sugar free gum after drinking or eating acidic foods and drinks. This will help to produce more salvia, which can help to cancel out the acid
- Wait for at least one hour after drinking something fizzy before brushing your teeth – delaying brushing your teeth will give your teeth time to build up their natural mineral content again. Remember, you should also brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one more time during the course of the day with fluoride toothpaste.
Should I use any other special products?
As well as making sure that you always use fluoride toothpaste, it’s also worthwhile using a mouthwash containing fluoride. If you are at particular risk of erosion your dental care team may also apply a fluoride varnish.