As the weather gets hotter, we tend to choose cold drinks to help us cool off and stay hydrated. Sodas and fruit juices can be particularly refreshing, but they can also cause dental erosion.
What Is Dental Erosion?
This condition occurs when a tooth’s hard, protective coating (the enamel) becomes softer and wears away after prolonged exposure to acid. Tooth enamel helps protect your teeth against painful temperatures and chemicals. It doesn’t have any living cells, so your body can’t undo the damage that’s been done and regrow the enamel.
What Happens to Your Teeth Over Time?
Dental erosion can leave the hard surface under the enamel (your dentin) exposed. Your teeth can hurt and become very sensitive to hot and cold foods. They may also hurt when you consume sweet foods or drinks.
Loss of enamel can harm the appearance and health of your teeth. They can become spotted with yellow or look too smooth and shiny. The edges of your front teeth could also look transparent. Your teeth could develop rough or uneven edges that would make them vulnerable to chips and cracks. Finally, your teeth could literally start to dissolve.
What Causes Erosion?
Acidic drinks, such as soda, fruit juices, and sports drinks, can eat away at your enamel over time.
Almost 80 percent of adults in a recent study had some level of dental erosion. The more severe cases were found in people who regularly consume non-diet soft drinks and fruit juices. Among people with more minor dental erosion, milk was more frequently consumed.
Another study published in the Journal of Dentistry, found that orange juice decreased enamel hardness by a whopping 84 percent.
Other research shows similar damage from diet sodas and sports drinks. Even though diet sodas don’t contain sugar, they still have a lot of acid in them. Sports drinks often contain sugar as well as a high level of acid.
How Can You Protect Your Teeth?
The following tips can help protect your enamel:
- Choose drinks like milk and water instead of acidic drinks like sodas and fruit juices.
- Keep track of the acidic beverages you drink. If, for example, you enjoy orange juice with breakfast, try water with lunch.
- Use a straw when you drink acidic beverages so you can limit the contact your teeth have with the liquid.
- If you’re going to have an acidic beverage, drink it all at once. Sipping it for hours prolongs the exposure.
We can suggest ways to help protect your teeth in the future and help improve their appearance, if needed, with bonding, veneers, crowns, or other appropriate treatments.
Contact My Family Dentistry for an appointment if you’re experiencing signs of dental erosion.