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We all got together to indulge into our favourite foods this holiday season, where platter overflowed with sweet, spicy and acidic foods. However, when it comes to teeth, sugar isn’t the only culprit that cause tooth decay. High levels of acid in everyday foods and drinks are equally harmful. Lemons to wine, high-acid foods and drinks erode your teeth, causing decay, sensitivity and discoloration. But that doesn’t mean you have to strike all acidic foods and drinks from your diet. The way you consume these items can lessen their damage on your teeth.
It is a type of tooth wear where, the protective surface of your teeth or the enamel wears away exposing the underlying material, called dentin. This leaves your tooth vulnerable to tartar, plaque and bacteria, which cause decay.
Causes of tooth erosion:
Calcium is a key ingredient in building strong teeth. Unfortunately, exposing your teeth to acid can leach calcium from your enamel, causing this protective surface to break down. Foods which have Ph. below 5.0 to 5.7 are acidic. This acid can come from many sources, including the following:
· Carbonated drinks. All soft drinks, including “diet” options, contain high levels of acid that can easily dissolve your enamel.
· Wine. Whether you choose red, white or rosé, drinking wine will soften your enamel.
· Pickles. Which are traditionally seen in an Indian platter
· Fruit juice. The most acidic options include lemon, cranberry, orange and apple.
· Citric fruits. Snacking or sucking on lemons, oranges and limes can wear down your teeth.
· Candy. No sugary sweets are good for your teeth, but you should pay extra attention to avoid sour gummies and candies.
· Sugar. Even though sugar itself does not contain high levels of acidity, it promotes the growth of acid-creating bacteria in your mouth, creating an acidic environment.
· Stomach acid. Vomiting and reflux also can cause serious tooth damage when stomach acid comes into contact with your teeth. If you suffer from an eating disorder, acid reflux or a related condition, seek professional help.
Signs of tooth erosion
Acid wear may lead to serious dental problems. It is important to notice the signs of tooth erosion in its early stages (sensitivity and discoloration) before more severe damage occur, such as cracks, pain and decay.
· Sensitivity. As your teeth’s protective enamel wears away, you may feel a twinge of pain when you consume hot, cold or sweet food and drink. As more enamel is worn away, teeth become increasingly sensitive.
· Discoloration. Teeth can become increasingly yellow as the thinning enamel layer exposes the underlying dentin.
· Rounded teeth. Your teeth may have a rounded or “sand-blasted” look.
· Sharp edges. You might notice thinning of teeth with sharp edges which might cut your tongue and cheeks.
· Transparency. Your front teeth may appear slightly translucent near the edges.
· Cracks. Small cracks and roughness may appear at the edges of teeth.
· Cupping. Small dents may appear on the chewing surface of the teeth, and fillings may appear to be rising up out of the tooth.
What you can do to prevent tooth erosion
Follow these tips to reduce the effects of acid on your teeth.
· Eating higher pH. Food alongside. This helps in lowering the acidity. Includes food like nuts, cheese, oatmeal, mangoes, melons, banana, apples, eggs, vegetables, brown rice and whole grains.
· Eat with meals. Instead of snacking throughout the day, save acidic foods for mealtimes. This will reduce their contact with your teeth and help neutralize the acid by eating it with other foods.
· Wash down with water. Sip water alongside or after the acidic food or drink to wash it out of your mouth.
· Use a straw. While having acidic beverages, reduce their contact with your teeth by using a straw and finishing the drink quickly, instead of sipping over a long period of time.
· Say no to bubbles. Swap out carbonated drinks with water, milk or tea.
· Wait before brushing. Acid softens your enamel, so brushing immediately after eating or drinking high-acid foods or drinks can actually cause damage. Wait at least half an hour and then start brushing. In the meantime, you can always rinse your mouth with tap water.
· Quit smoking. Studies have showed that smokers are more prone to acidity leading to acid reflux and teeth erosion
· Professional help. See your dentist twice a year for dental cleaning and oral screening.
· Sugar free gums. Chewing on sugar free gums increase the saliva flow which, neutralise the acid and help the teeth to stay strong.
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If chewing food and retaining a sparkling smile is not enough for you, avoiding toothaches and a visit to the dentist could be reason enough to maintain healthy teeth. Ignoring your tooth health can lead to many problems. Answer yourself the following question. Would you like your teeth inside your mouth or in a glass tumbler beside your bed at nighttime?
If you opted for the former, then going through the following tips and advices will go a long way in helping you sustain healthy teeth. They are:
- Brush and floss twice a day: Brushing and flossing twice a day, on a regular basis will help you maintain healthy teeth and gums in the long run. The ideal time to brush your teeth is 20 minutes after a meal. Opting for a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles gives you better access to even the deeper portions of your mouth, thus providing comprehensive cleansing to your teeth. Moreover, softer bristles are generous on your gums as well.
- Nutrition: Whatever you eat, either protects you or makes you more susceptible to diseases and disorders. This stands true for your oral health as well. As such, choosing the right foods early in your life is of vital importance. Foods such as cold drinks, cakes, candies and other such sugary substances facilitate the growth of germ and bacteria in your mouth, resulting in plaque and cavities. Choosing foods that are low in starch and sugar will reduce the development of germs and help eradicate cavities or plaque in the long run.
- Smoking: Even the pack of smoke that you buy endorses smoking is injurious to your general health. Smoking causes reduced flow of blood to the mouth, which resultantly leads to increased chances of periodontal disease and mouth cancer. Smoking, moreover causes a decline in the ability of the bones and tissues to revascularize (self-heal). All else apart, just stop smoking.
- Chewing gums: Chewing gums are highly beneficial especially after a meal. They not only increase the flow of saliva in your mouth, but also improves the flow of blood to your brain, thus enhancing your alertness by close to 10%. In addition, chewing gums help neutralize the acid in your mouth, thus helping you cleanse your mouth.
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