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Have you noticed your teeth getting duller over time? Do they seem to be more translucent? Are they more sensitive to hot or cold? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then you may be experiencing tooth erosion, where acids in food and drink wear down the tooth enamel. Tooth erosion is permanent and can lead to dental problems such as tooth decay and, in extreme cases, tooth loss

There are ways to resist tooth erosion, but first, you need to know what to watch for when it comes to your enamel. At Beavers & Broomfield Family Dentistry, we see such cases often, but we have ways to treat damaged teeth and slow further tooth erosion.

What Is Tooth Erosion?

Tooth erosion happens when acids from food or drink react against the enamel and break it down. The weakened enamel becomes more susceptible to tooth decay. The enamel loss can lead to sensitive teeth because the inner portion of the tooth, called the dentin, becomes exposed. 

Tooth erosion shows up as: 

  • Yellowing or discoloration
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Translucence
  • Worn or hollowed teeth

If not treated, tooth erosion can lead to tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, or tooth loss.

What Foods Cause Tooth Erosion?

Tooth erosion isn’t 100% preventable. Over the years, eating normally is still going to wear down your enamel. But there are ways to slow the progression. 

Some foods and drinks contain acids that can increase the rate of tooth erosion. Avoiding them can slow the progression of tooth erosion. These include:

  • Soft drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Drink flavorings (liquid and powder)
  • Fruit juices, particularly citrus (lemonade, lime, orange juices) and apple juice
  • Flavored teas
  • Sour candies
  • Sour/citrus fruits
  • Sour or sticky dried fruits (raisins, prunes, etc.)
  • Hard or sticky candies

Sticky foods, such as hard or sticky candies or dried fruit, can adhere to your teeth even after chewing and raise the acidity. Sour candies have citrus added to create the tart flavor, increasing the candy’s acid level. 

Drink flavorings also have high levels of acidity, even the “natural” ones. Whether you’re adding a few drops to your water or ordering flavor in your tea, you’re raising the acidity level in the drink and making your teeth more vulnerable to erosion.

The biggest transgressor when it comes to acid in food or drink is carbonated drinks, particularly sodas. The carbonation adds acid and increases the decay level. Throw in the tons of sugar or sweetener most sodas and sports drinks contain, and you have a recipe for accelerating tooth decay. Limit your intake as best as you can, or better still, eliminate sodas from your diet, and you can slow the rate of tooth erosion.

How Do I Protect Against Tooth Erosion?

The easiest way to prevent tooth erosion is by simply brushing and flossing. You should floss your teeth, then brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Doing this regularly can remove acid from your teeth and keep your enamel strong. 

Brushing with fluoride toothpaste can also help your enamel. The fluoride reacts with your saliva to strengthen your enamel. Fluoride mouthwash helps as well. Just be sure not to eat or drink for 30 minutes afterward so the fluoride has time to react with the saliva and strengthen the enamel.

Beavers & Broomfield Family Dentistry also offers sealant treatments. This treatment puts a thin coating of sealant on the back teeth in the nooks and crannies that may be difficult to reach with brushing. The sealant can last for years with proper maintenance. 

If you suspect tooth erosion and live in Northwest Arkansas, contact Beavers & Broomfield Family Dentistry. We can get you in for a complete checkup and figure out what we can do to help. Remember, enamel loss is permanent, so don’t wait too long if you suspect you have tooth erosion. Request an appointment today!

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