How acidic foods and drinks affect your oral health
Acidic foods and drinks can be very damaging to the teeth. The excessive consumption can lead to the loss of teeth structure – acid or dental erosion. This is one of the most common chronic diseases which usually affect children between the ages of 5-17 years. The excessive consumption of acidic foods and drinks damage the tooth enamel. Failure to initiate appropriate treatment can affect the inner dentin as well.
The foods and drinks that have pH below 5.0-5.7 are considered acidic and can have a negative impact on the teeth. These include soft drinks, fruit juices (e.g. orange juice), soft drinks and wine. Soft drinks, for example, contain phosphoric and citric acids. These acids can potentially eradicate the tooth enamel and the dentin.
Acidic foods and drinks have a tendency to lower the pH level of the mouth. This speeds up the process of demineralization of the tooth enamel. Kids can become more prone to acid erosion if excessive amounts of low pH fruit juices, such as orange or apple are given. The saliva produced by the salivary glands can regulate the pH levels of the mouth. However, some acidic drinks show resistance to the buffering effect of the saliva.
The consumption of acidic food and drinks can not only significantly change the colour of the teeth but also their shape – the gaps between the teeth could become larger. Eventually, cracking of the teeth may occur. This is one of the more severe symptoms of acid erosion. Besides the changes in the appearance of the teeth, acid erosion may lead to increased sensitivity of the teeth. As the tooth enamel wears away, the teeth become highly sensitive. A person would experience pain and discomfort when hot, cold or sweet food items are consumed.
In order to prevent acid erosion, it is important to avoid acidic foods and drinks. At least, minimize the consumption of such items. If you have to consume an acidic drink, choose a straw. This would bypass the teeth without affecting the tooth enamel. Furthermore, soft bristle toothbrush should be used after consumption of such foods or drinks. Nevertheless, you must wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth as this might damage enamel at its weakened state.
Remineralization agents such as sodium fluoride solution could be used to prevent acid erosion. This can be done by using toothpaste with fluoride, fluoride mouthwash, tablets, fluoride gels or varnishes.
Read also – Tooth enamel erosion. How common is that?