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Oral Health and What Patients Can Do to Prevent Dental Erosion

Posted by Dr. Mark Mann

Apr 10, 2014 9:11:00 AM

oral health pic of girl holding toothbrush outIn this day and age, many people understand that certain types of junk foods can have a serious impact on oral health.  It would be hard to find anyone who does not grasp the fact that sodas, candy bars, and similar treats can damage tooth enamel, especially when good dental hygiene is not part of the daily routine.  What some people may not know is that foods and snacks that are considered healthy alternatives can also lead to a condition called dental erosion.

What is Dental Erosion?

Dental erosion is term used to describe the gradual loss of enamel and dentin from the surface of the teeth.  This type of condition is serious, since it weakens the overall structure of the teeth and increases the odds of developing cavities, chipping teeth while chewing, and a host of other problems.  The thing to remember is that once the natural enamel is lost, it is gone forever.  While modern dentistry can use various processes to strengthen the teeth and partially compensate for that loss, there is no way to restore the enamel.

Healthy Snacks and Enamel Loss

Many people choose to find substitutes for sugar-laden snacks like soda and candy bars.  Often, the new snack of choice is some type of fruit or fruit juice.  This does make a lot of sense.  After all, fruit is loaded with plenty of nutrients that the body needs.  It also stands to reason that fruit juices are better choices, especially when they do not contain any type of artificial preservatives or sweeteners.

While these are better choices overall for the body, they are not without some dangers for the teeth. In fact, the natural sugar and the citric acid in fruit and fruit juices can also break down tooth enamel over time.  Learning this fact can leave people wondering if there is anything that they can do to protect their teeth and still enjoy a snack now and then.

Good Oral Hygiene to the Rescue!

The key to preventing eroded teeth is the development and maintenance of good oral hygiene.  Many people already know that brushing after meals is part of the process.  Along with brushing regularly, there are some other ways to help minimize the impact of citric acid and sugar on the teeth:

  • Don’t hold the fruit juice in the mouth.  It’s fun to let the juice linger for a few seconds and then swallow.  The problem is that this provides more time for the acid to attack the teeth.  Sipping and swallowing is a better approach.
  • Rinse after every snack.  While it may not be practical to brush after a mid-afternoon piece of fruit or a glass of juice, it doesn’t take much effort to rinse the mouth with a little water.  This will help to dilute any traces of the acid that are still lingering on the gums and teeth.  
  • Chew gum.  There is evidence that the use of xylitol gum can help to reduce the acid level in the mouth.  While the gum is not a substitute for brushing and rinsing, it will come in handy when other methods of freshening the mouth are not readily available.
  • Flossing.  Flossing is something that should be part of the daily dental hygiene regimen. It is also one of the elements that people are most likely to leave out of the equation.  Make it a point to floss after brushing the teeth at the end of the day.  When combined with brushing and the use of a good quality mouthwash, there’s very little chance of any lingering sugar or citric acid to damage the teeth.

Taking care of the teeth does not mean avoiding foods that are otherwise very good for general health.  It does mean paying more attention to all the ways to protect the teeth.  Incorporate these tips for reducing the effects of dental erosion into the daily hygiene regimen.  Share these tips with others, along with any other ideas for promoting the health of teeth and gums with others.  The more that people talk about and practice good oral health, the better the odds of everyone making it into their later years with their teeth in great shape.

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The Mann Dental Care Blog features important topics regarding dental health. Over one-hundred dental care posts have been published, providing our readers with a great resource for timely news about dental care.

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