Healthy Teeth: 5 Ways to Avoid Acid Wear

This image is no longer available

According to a recent survey, the majority of Canadians listed acidic foods—including oranges, coffee, chocolate and wine—amongst their favourites. Long term, an appetite for acidic edibles—those with a pH lower than 5.5—can lead to enamel erosion. At worst, a person may require fillings, veneers or crowns and, at the very least, it can cause sensitivity.

Dr. Amin Babul was working the Sensodyne ProNamel booth at this past fall’s Toronto Gourmet Food & Wine Expo to get the word out.

Here are five things you should know about acid wear:

1. Watch for yellowing teeth: The enamel becomes more translucent as it starts to wear and can result in chipping at the edges of teeth.

2. Avoid certain food and drinks: Beer, soft drinks and fries are at the top of the list, but also daily food guide items below 5.5 on the pH scale such as cottage cheese, snow peas and granola. But rather than committing to a complete overhaul of your diet follow a regimen instead, suggests Babul.

3. Don’t brush for an hour after intake of acidic food or drink: In that time, saliva will neutralize your mouth, making the enamel more susceptible to wear and tear.

4. Use an oral rinse or water: This will allow you to freshen up and neutralize the acid after exposure. Rinse mouth until the taste of the acidic food or beverage is entirely gone.

5. Use a soft bristle toothbrush: This will help you avoid “chipping away at enamel,” Babul says. If you’re an overzealous brusher, go electric. Try the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum (see below), which features a pressure sensor to alert heavy-handed users.

“Frequency and duration of the acidic food is also important,” says Babul. He’s referring talking to you folks nursing a cuppa all day—tea, coffee, soft drinks, juice and even lemon in your water are all culprits, so avoid prolonged contact.

Try enamel-protecting toothpaste such as Sensodyne ProNamel, Babul adds. It’s formulated to be less abrasive and delivers as much fluoride to teeth as possible. Fluoride acts to lower the pH level teeth are particularly sensitive to and fills in enamel molecules that may have already been lost.