What you do between dental visits can make all the difference. Things we eat and drink have a direct daily impact on enamel.
This daily onslaught begins to wear down the outer shell of our teeth, which protects the more sensitive dentin found beneath. As the enamel erodes, teeth begin to appear yellow or stained — since dentin isn’t as white as the outer shell.
What can we do? The Oral Health Foundation has created a checklist of things to watch out for when combating dental erosion:
Our tooth enamel briefly softens each time we ingest something that’s acidic. Saliva works to balance the mouth’s acidity, and the outer tooth then returns to its normal state. Erosion occurs when we ingest these acidic things too often, or when your mouth hasn’t yet had the time to protect itself once more. Small amounts of enamel can then be brushed, chewed or washed away.
When You’re Eating
Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice, and eat fruit with a meal rather than as a snack. Drink water as you eat acidic foods or after drinking acidic liquids. Wait an hour or so after eating something acidic before brushing your teeth. If you can’t slip away in a timely fashion, consider sugar-free gum since it will encourage the production of saliva until you make time to brush.
When You’re Drinking
When drinking acidic things like coffee, tea, wine or soft drinks, use a straw to help the liquid reach the back of your mouth without coming into contact with teeth. Avoid swishing these liquids around in your mouth. If you’re not lactose intolerant, finish meals with a selection of cheese or a glass of milk in order to balance the acidity in your mouth.
Smaller instances of erosion may be addressed by your dentist with a small filling or other protective application. In more advanced cases, a cap or veneer could be needed in order to replace the damaged tooth. Regular check-ups can keep the problem from reaching that point, since your dentist is there to offer timely professional care. But this actually makes it even more important that anyone who thinks they’re suffering from dental erosion seek out professional advice as early as possible so the problem can be identified and potentially corrected.