At East Portland Dentistry, we believe that knowledgeable patients will make healthy oral hygiene choices, so we would like to inform our patients about tooth erosion, an irreversible process that may lead to tooth removal. The primary cause of tooth erosion is acid. Acidic chemicals in foods and drinks weaken the tooth’s enamel and leave the tooth’s inner structure vulnerable, triggering tooth erosion. While everyone, unfortunately, is susceptible to tooth erosion, it is possible to minimize the effects.
Acidic Foods and Drinks
First, be mindful of what you eat and drink. Consuming foods and drinks with pH levels below 4 (please see the chart reproduced below) sparks tooth erosion. We recommend that you avoid consuming all soft drinks and sports drinks, as they are highly acidic. If you do partake, drink through a straw aimed at the back of the mouth. The goal is to reduce the contact teeth have with acids. Coffee and herbal teas are also extremely acidic. As we understand that coffee is part of Portland’s culture, we advise that if you do indulge, you do so minimally and quickly, again to decrease prolonged contact between teeth and acids. Additionally, try to refrain from sucking on candies, sour fruits, or frozen fruit drinks. What you eat and drink and how you do so affects your dental health, so we encourage you to be aware of common foods and drinks that may seem healthy but actually are harmful to your teeth.
Caring for Your Teeth
After you eat and drink, continue to keep your teeth in mind. While brushing your teeth immediately after every meal may seem like a healthy routine, wait at least one hour to brush after consuming acidic foods and drinks. Acids soften tooth enamel; give the enamel sufficient time to re-harden before brushing. Rinsing your mouth with water right away is preferable to brushing immediately. Another healthy tip to neutralize acid is to eat a piece of cheese. Yes, parents, cheese sticks will do the trick! Also, as saliva naturally neutralizes acid, chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva flow. Chewing sugar-free gum is especially important for those who have dry mouth, or xerostomia. We’re not joking when we urge you to arm yourselves with drinking straws, cheese sticks, and sugar-free gum in the fight against tooth erosion.
Finally, you can prevent serious tooth erosion through proper brushing. Brush gently twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. We are happy to recommend a toothpaste specially designed to re-harden tooth enamel. Fluoride also helps strengthen tooth enamel, and our dentists and hygienists provide fluoride treatments. Once tooth enamel erodes, it cannot be replaced, so let’s work together to focus on prevention.
At East Portland Dentistry, a Portland, Oregon dentist, we believe that knowledgeable patients will make healthy oral hygiene choices about tooth erosion. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!