When you practice proper oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly for checkup, cleaning, and x-rays, you might think you have a free pass to eat and drink whatever you want. While it’s true that proper oral care goes a long way toward preserving healthy teeth and gums, the unfortunate truth is that consuming harmful foods and beverages can undo all your hard work and leave you with tooth decay and other damage.
Most people understand the dangers of consuming processed sugars, but you might not realize that acidic foods and drinks can be just as harmful to teeth. How can these items affect your enamel and compromise oral health? Here’s what you need to know.
The main issue with acidic foods and drinks is that they can erode enamel. This occurs because acids in food leach away calcium that keeps your teeth strong and healthy. When this happens, it causes a breakdown in the protective layer of enamel that shields your teeth. Without proper protection, your teeth are susceptible to unsightly staining, not to mention the ill effects of harmful bacteria in your mouth.
Enamel is your first line of defense against tooth decay, and when the acidic foods and beverages you consume cause it to erode, the bacteria in your mouth have an in to attack the soft tissue in your teeth. This is how tooth decay begins, and it can lead to cavities, infections, and more serious concerns like abscesses, tooth loss, and oral disease. This will take time, of course, but your best option is to prevent such occurrences, rather than taking a reactionary approach.
What can you do to avoid the damage caused by acidic foods and beverages? The first step is to understand which comestibles are problematic. Beverages like soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and fruit juices tend to be high in both sugars and acids that negatively impact oral health. Cutting back is a great idea, but if you have to have them, at least drink with a straw to limit contact with teeth.
You should also consider how much citrus you ingest. Oranges, lemons, and limes are delicious, but you don’t want to suck on them and increase exposure to citric acid. Try to eat these items during a meal (instead of as a snack) and remember to brush, floss, and rinse afterward to reduce the harmful effects of acid on your enamel. Making sure to schedule regular visits with your dental professional is also a great way to preserve oral health and catch any problems early.