Monday, December 19, 2011

A new one

Dental erosion is an increasingly common problem. 

Unlike decay, where parts of the tooth are attacked by bacteria in the mouth, dental erosion is caused by acid. 

  • There are several causes of erosion - including acid reflux, when natural acids in the stomach flow up the mouth, sometimes eroding the back teeth, and over-brushing with abrasive toothpastes. 

However, it is thought that the main culprit is acids in our diet, found in fruit juices and fizzy drinks. 

Research in the U.S., published last year, found that daily exposure to fruit juice caused even more damage to tooth enamel than some of the controversial home whitening treatments. 

‘The acid in orange juice is so strong that the tooth is literally washed away,’ said the study leader YanFang Ren, an associate professor in the department of dentistry at the University of Rochester. 

It’s potentially a very serious problem for those who drink fruit juice and fizzy drinks every day.’ 
What’s more, the damage often starts in childhood. 

The most recent national Dental Health Survey found that while there were fewer cases of dental decay today than in the previous couple of decades, more than half of five-year-olds had lost part of their tooth surface through erosion. 

‘We are seeing more cases of dental erosion,’ says Dr George
Druttman, a dental expert at Cap City Dental in the City of London. 

‘While parents think they are doing the best by their children by giving them “healthier” drinks, the acid in these drinks is wearing away the enamel. 

‘Similarly, I now see lots of young professionals with quite pronounced damage to the enamel. 

Many are quite horrified to think that fruit juices (and that includes smoothies), which many think of as healthy, are actually damaging their teeth.’ 

The mouth is a naturally nonacidic environment. 
Healthy saliva is neutral or slightly alkaline - about pH7.4.

However, some fruit juices and carbonated soft drinks are as highly acidic as pH 3.4.
The tooth surface is composed of calcium salts that are highly vulnerable to acidic attack. 

After eating or drinking, the saliva will try to neutralise the damage - but if we sip on juice and fizzy drinks regularly throughout the day, our teeth are constantly being bathed in acid. 

‘Most parents now know they shouldn’t fill their baby’s bottle with something sugary, such as Ribena, as a pacifier,’ says Dr Druttman. 

‘But some will still happily fill a baby’s bottle with fruit juice, which means their teeth are continually bathed in sugar and acid.’ 

So, what is the best way to protect your teeth? 

Brushing your teeth straight after having a juice is actually the worse thing you can do. 

‘Acid softens tooth enamel, making it susceptible to damage from brushing immediately after you have consumed the juice,’ explains Professor
Damien Walmsley of the British Dental Association. 
If you have an acidic drink such as orange juice with breakfast, wait for an hour before brushing your teeth. 

This gives the enamel time to become strong again.’ 

He continues: ‘The impact of acidic drinks can be minimised by ensuring they are only drunk with meals - drink still water at other times. 

And when you do have acidic drinks, they are best drunk through a straw to minimise the contact with teeth.’ 

Sugar-free chewing gum, which increases the flow of saliva, can also help, as can finishing a meal with milk or cheese, which neutralises acid. 

For many, the warnings come too late - and treating the problem once it has occurred is difficult. 

Tooth erosion is more difficult to treat than tooth decay because it affects the entire surface of a tooth, rather than causing just a cavity. 

Toothpastes for sensitive teeth can help. 
Yet another modern disaster brought to you by big business.
Who curiously enough have never told anyone that their products can cause this problem.

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