You know that sugar is bad for your teeth. But did you know that eating too much fruit or drinking fruit juice regularly can also cause dental problems? Drs. Steven Dickey and Kevin Conroy of Total Dental Care in Pekin, Illinois see a number of patients that have suffered the ill effects of consuming too much seemingly-healthy fruit and fruit juice. Here are some answers to this puzzling problem.
How does fruit damage your teeth?
While fruit has many health benefits, nourishing the body with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber, it can wreak havoc on the mouth, especially if it is consumed in large quantities. While fruit has not shown to promote tooth decay, it is a major contributor to an acid erosion of the tooth structure.
What is acid erosion?
When the teeth are consistently exposed to acidic foods and drinks, the pH level in the mouth becomes imbalanced and the protective enamel begins to break down. While saliva (spit) in the mouth acts as a buffer against the pH imbalance, fruit juices are highly resistant to saliva's effects. The result is sensitivity to hot, cold and sweet foods and beverages, yellow and transparent discoloration, and a change in the shape and size of the teeth.
What fruits have the highest acid content?
Citrus fruits - oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit - are particularly high in acid content. Any fruit juices or fruit-based drinks, especially orange juice and lemonade, also introduce acids into the mouth. Dental professionals like Dr. Dickey and Dr. Conroy, your Pekin dentists, have determined that the amount of fruit or fruit-based beverage is not a contributor to acid erosion; rather, it is the frequency with which it is consumed. This is especially true for babies and toddlers who are given fruit juice in their bottles and allowed to sip on them throughout the day and night.
How can I prevent acid erosion?
You can limit acid erosion by rinsing immediately after ingesting acidic foods or drinks. Brushing immediately after eating or drinking these items is discouraged by your Pekin dentist; the teeth have become softened and the abrasive effects of brushing may do more harm than good. Wait at least a half-hour to brush after acidic items have been consumed. Eating cheese or drinking milk along with acidic items is also helpful; dairy products increase saliva's anti-acid effects.
If you think your teeth might be showing signs of acid erosion, call Total Dental Care in Pekin to have a thorough evaluation from one of our skilled dentists.