Think before you drink: the truth about tooth enamel
Diet soda may be helping you cut calories, but it’s actually harming your teeth. Drinking any kind of soft drink can cause enamel erosion or tooth decay. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the inherent acids and sugars in soft drinks have both acidogenic and cariogenic potential, resulting in tooth decay and enamel erosion if a person drinks it often.
What is enamel, and what happens when it is eroded?
Tooth enamel is one of the four major tissues that make up the tooth in the human mouth. It is the visible part of your tooth above the gum, which is why it’s more susceptible to erosion, because it is constantly exposed. Tooth enamel is found to be the hardest substance in the body, but it can dissolve or decay when exposed to acid and a buildup or bacteria. Tooth enamel is important because it protects your teeth from damage. It also protects the nerve in your teeth. That’s why people with sensitive teeth have proved to have less enamel, which allows more liquids to come in closer contact with nerves, causing pain.
Other ways tooth enamel can be damaged is from fruit drinks, dry mouth, a diet high in sugar and starches, acid reflux disease, gastrointestinal problems, medications such as aspirin and antihistamines, stress or that it simply runs in your family.
How is enamel loss treated?
This can be a case-by-case basis. If there is a cavity, we will fill it with white colored filling so it isn’t cosmetically noticeable. We may recommend tooth bonding to protect the tooth and increase cosmetic appearance. If enamel loss is significant, we may cover the tooth with a crown to protect the tooth from further decay.
What symptoms might I experience if my enamel has eroded?
If your enamel has eroded or begun to erode, you may experience some pain when eating cold or hot foods. In advanced cases, you may experience pain or throbbing when eating in general. As enamel erodes, your teeth may appear yellow or discolored. Enamel contributes to the teeth’s white appearance, so if it is weakened to expose dentin, teeth can change color. Teeth may appear more round in shape, or unusually shiny. In severe cases, the edges of teeth can become rough, irregular, and jagged, causing cracks and chips.
If you continue to drink soft drinks on a regular basis, remember to:
Limit consumption of soda just specifically to meal time. This way, the sugar doesn’t sit on your teeth.
Try not to drink soda consistently throughout the day; especially citrus flavored soda, as these type of soft drinks have higher levels of acid than regular soft drinks.
Rinse your mouth out afterwards, and brush after 30 minutes.
Chew sugar-free gum. This will help clean out the mouth to avoid sugar sitting on the teeth and causing erosion.
Drink through a straw to avoid liquid contact on your teeth.
Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash. Small amounts of fluoride can strengthen teeth and help prevent enamel erosion and tooth decay.
Schedule a cleaning every 6 months.
Our caring team provides Southwest Florida patients with the highest quality dental care, from cosmetic and general dentistry services to implants. If you have concerns related to your dental health, schedule an appointment with us today at 239-936-0597.