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Nip Erosion in the Bud by Neutralising Acids

by Lucy Stock BDS DipImpDent RCS (Eng)

Published in the Irish News . 07.03.2012

Many people know that fizzy drinks rot teeth. Sugary drinks not only cause holes but because they’re acidy the enamel is dissolved off the teeth. This is called erosion and any acidy food or drink can leave teeth shorter, thinner and so brittle that bits chip off. Eroded teeth can feel dipped and look brown in the middle and see through at the edges. The teeth may feel sensitive to cold and if enough tooth has dissolved away the tooth can end up with a painful abscess.

Acidy things that dissolve teeth:

  • Citrus fruits – e.g. oranges, pineapples, lemons
  • Fizzy drinks including diet drinks and fizzy water
  • Alcopops, cider and wine
  • Sports drinks
  • Vinegary foods
  • Stomach problems that bring acid up

Sometimes people get caught out as they believe eating lots of fruit or drinking lemon in hot water is good for you. It is, in moderation and the problems only arise if the acidy food is taken too frequently. Eating a variety of fruits, not just citrus, and alternating them helps. Drinking more still water is a good idea, the occasional fizzy drink will do no harm.

Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia have an impact on teeth. Regular vomiting brings stomach acid up which strips the enamel. A visit to the dentist by someone battling an eating disorder can be daunting. Feelings of being ‘found out’, embarrassment or scared about being told off are commonly expressed. If someone doesn’t want to discuss an eating disorder that fine. However it can be a relief to speak with a professional in confidence. Teeth can be protected so that if the person conquers or controls an eating disorder the teeth will have been kept in the best possible condition.

Tips to help eroded teeth:

  • Drink through a straw.
  • Toothbrush, spit out, doesn’t rinse with water; leaves the toothpaste to harden the teeth.
  • Eat a piece of cheese after an acidy thing to neutralise it.

Your dentist can assess how much the teeth have dissolved and discover the cause. Treatments can range from applying protective fluoride gels, covering small areas with white filling material, veneers which cover one side of the tooth to fully covering the tooth all around with a crown. Treatments return eroded teeth back to looking great and protect them from further damage.