One of the biggest enemies of healthy tooth enamel is dietary acids: the types of acids found in some foods and beverages. Acids soften and dissolve the minerals in tooth enamel, causing it to thin or cavitate.
Dietary acids can:
- Contribute to tooth wear
- Hasten the development of cavities in teeth
- Cause tooth sensitivity.
Which Beverages Are Acidic?
Fruit juices, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are examples of acidic drinks. Even the fruit smoothie, a drink that some might consider a healthy choice, can be very acidic and potentially damaging to teeth.
Low-sugar and regular soft drinks are both acidic. Frequent consumption of low-sugar beverages can still cause significant damage to tooth enamel.
How To Protect Your Teeth When Consuming Acidic Drinks
Dr Teo encourages her patients to take steps to prevent dental disease whenever possible. So the best protection against acidic drinks is not to consume them or to only consume them occasionally. The ideal beverage for healthy teeth is water. It contains no acids or sugars.
Whenever you have an acidic drink, consider protecting your teeth in the following ways:
Use A Straw
A straw allows you to enjoy your beverage whilst ensuring it has the least amount of contact with your teeth. Avoid swishing the beverage within your mouth.
Counteract the Acidity with Cheese
When drinking wine, do not skip the cheese. Cheese contains enzymes that can help to neutralise the damaging effects of acids on teeth.
Dilute and Neutralise
After consuming an acidic drink, it is a good idea to rinse your mouth out with water or a fluoride mouthwash.
We do not recommend brushing your teeth immediately after an acidic drink. This is because the acid in the beverage temporarily demineralises (softens) the enamel. If you brush your teeth when the enamel is soft, you risk brushing it away.
Rinsing with tap water dilutes the acids, and the fluoride helps the enamel to remineralise (harden). Once the enamel has recovered its strength (after an hour or so), feel free to brush with a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
Consider Giving Soft Drinks a Miss
We strongly suggest avoiding regular soft drinks, as these contain the ‘deadly duo’ of sugar and acid, and have no nutritional value. Consider either giving up soft drinks or only consuming them as ‘special occasion’ drinks.
Whatever You Eat or Drink, We’re Here To Help You Keep Your Teeth Healthy
If you have any questions about dietary acids and sugars, or about how to protect your teeth from their damaging effects, please feel free to ask Dr Teo at your next check-up appointment.