Diet & Dental Health

By Dr. Michelle Chen, DDS (IG: @run2food)

Most of us love eating fruit: they are juicy, sweet and can be a good source of Vitamin C. However, many fruits and other high-acid foods/beverages can be very acidic. Acidic foods and beverages can contribute to causing dental erosion if not consumed in moderation and when dental health is not taken care of. Dental erosion is when the acid content causes tooth enamel to weaken and wear away. Normally, the calcium in our saliva functions in helping to strengthen tooth enamel However, when the environment in our mouth is too acidic, this remineralization will not occur.


Some common signs of dental erosion include:

  • Discoloration – Teeth can appear more yellow as your enamel wears away and becomes thinner, which exposes the underlying dentine layer.

  • Sensitivity – especially to cold & hot foods, sweets and sometimes even cold air.

  • Transparent teeth – in particular, the edges of your teeth can appear less opaque and almost see-through.


Some examples of high-acid foods/drinks are:

  • Citrus fruits: oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, mandarins

  • Other fruits: pineapple, tomatoes apples, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, peaches

  • Gummies, sour lollies

  • Sauerkraut, pickles

  • Apple cider vinegar

  • Beverages like: Soft drinks, juices, smoothies, kombucha, lemon water


Some examples of healthy foods that are low in acid food and will not contribute to erosion include:

  • Starches: Bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, yams

  • Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, asparagus, corn

  • Fruit: Ripe bananas, mangoes, papaya, melons

  • Proteins: Tofu, beans, lentils, chickpeas


You can definitely still enjoy high-acid foods you love, by consuming it in moderation and being mindful of how acid affects your teeth and care for it accordingly. Here are a few tips to help keep your teeth health and avoid erosion:

  • Use a straw when drinking acidic beverages like juices, smoothies, soft drinks, kombucha. Ensure that the straw is positioned all the way at the back of your throat to prevent the liquid form coming in direct contact with your teeth.

  • Never suck on limes, lemons or any high-acid fruit as this is a sure to soften the enamel of your teeth and cause erosion.

  • Reduce the frequency of high-acid & sugary food intake to allow more time for your saliva to neutralize and restore your oral environment.

  • After consuming high-acid foods/beverages, rinse your mouth with water to help dilute the acid.

  • Wait AT LEAST 30 minutes before brushing to allow enough time for your saliva to help the enamel to remineralize again.

  • Brush using fluoridated toothpaste to keep your enamel strong.


References:

  1. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/nutrition-and-oral-health/acidic-fruits-and-teeth-effects

  2. Lussi A, Jaeggi T, Zero D . The role of diet in the aetiology of dental erosion. Caries Res 2004; 38: 34–44.

  3. Lussi A, Jaeggi T . Erosion—diagnosis and risk factors. Clin Oral Investig 2008; 12: 5–13.

  4. B.T. Amaechi, S.M. Higham, Dental erosion: possible approaches to prevention and control, Journal of Dentistry, Volume 33, Issue 3, 2005; 243-252, ISSN 0300-5712, \

  5. W. Kunzel, M. Santa Cruz, and T. Fischer, “Dental erosion in Cuban children associated with excessive consumption of oranges,” European Journal of Oral Sciences, vol. 108, no. 2, pp. 104–109, 2000.

  6. Y. Luo, X. J. Zeng, M. Q. Du, and R. Bedi, “The prevalence of dental erosion in preschool children in China,” Journal of Dentistry, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 115–121, 2005.