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We all have heard the old saying, “We are what we eat”, but did you know it is just as important for your teeth as it is your body? Your choice of drink has a big impact on your waistline as well as your dental health. Most of the focus regarding the consumption of sugary soft drinks, sport drinks, and fruit juices surrounds obesity and diabetes. It is important to realize that these same drinks can contribute to tooth decay and possibly dental pain if untreated.

The average American consumes over 50 gallons of soda and other sweetened drinks each year. Statistics show that almost 20 percent of all children under the age of 19 have untreated cavities. The sweetened soft drinks and the like are wreaking havoc on our dental health. They work by constantly washing your mouth with sugar and acid allowing for the perfect acidic environment and constant supply of sugar for the bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria then produce more acids that lead to tooth decay by dissolving the enamel that protects our teeth. Sugar also dries your mouth out and makes you thirstier, causing you to drink much larger sized beverages to satisfy your thirst.

Worst Drinks for Your Dental Health

Soft Drinks

The most obvious of the bad drinks for you. This is probably not new information to anyone. Soft drinks are bad for you for two reasons. One is the sugar, but the other is the acidity. Carbonated drinks like Coke and Pepsi use phosphoric acid in their ingredients (Mountain Dew and Sprite use citric acid). The acid breaks down the enamel in our teeth. The enamel is the outer protective layer of our teeth and it also gives us an attractive, shiny smile.

Sports Drinks 

These drinks include Gatorade, flavored water, as well as others. These drinks are not acidic like soda but these come with a double does of sugar. Most of these drinks are great for their intended purpose…recovery from activity. These drinks are

Sports Drinks Marielaina Perrone DDS

Change Drinking Habits for Better Dental Health

generally not used for their intended purpose of severe re hydration, they are consumed as a regular beverage. Over time, when too often consumed, they can easily stain your teeth and cause tooth decay.

Fruit and Energy Drinks

Fruit drinks, and beverages like red bull, also pose a threat to your pearly whites. These drinks are also damaging to your teeth and need to be used in moderation as well. Fruit drinks like Hawaiian Punch and Sunny Delight are nearly as acidic as Coca-Cola. Combine the acid levels with the sugars already in the ingredients and you have a recipe for catastrophe.

How to Minimize the Damage from These Beverages

-Brushing. Tooth brushing after every meal is the best way to decrease the chance of developing tooth cavities.

-Rinsing. Swish your mouth out with water after drinking these beverages can help decrease the amount of acid contacting the teeth.

-Chew Gum. Chewing sugar-free gum or xylitol gum will also help minimize the damage caused by these drinks by increasing saliva production.

-Drink at Mealtime. Drink sugary and acidic beverages with meals, and never before bedtime unless you plan to brush your teeth before heading to bed.

-Use a straw. This also helps decrease contact of these sugars and acids with the teeth.

-Other drinks that contribute to tooth decay (sugary, acidic, or both): dairy milk, soy milk, energy drinks, protein shakes, wine, beer, tea, coffee, smoothies, all fruit juices, some bottled waters.

Conclusion

Yes, we are what we eat! Be smart about what you choose for yourself and for your family. Many health issues can be circumvented by choosing healthier options and using your educated judgement to make the best choices. Use sweet drinks in moderation, and take care of your dental hygiene in between drinks. As always visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings for better dental health.

Hope everyone has a Safe and Happy Halloween!!

 

Facts About Halloween:

-Over 35 million pounds of candy corn will be made this year alone. This equals nearly 9 billion pieces. That is enough candy corn to circle the moon 4 times if laid end to end.

Vampire Smile Marielaina Perrone DDS

Even Vampires Visit the Dentist!

-Candy makes up only about 6% of the added sugar in the average Americans diet. Soft drinks and fruit juices account for almost 45% of total.

-Only about 5-7% of children do not go trick-or-treating each year.

-Chocolate is a better choice for your teeth than hard candy. It rinses more easily from the mouth by saliva, leaving it in contact with teeth for a shorter time. Chocolate also contains tannins. Tannins are known to inhibit the action of cavity-causing bacteria.

-American adults eat almost 65% of all candy produced every year.

-During the week beginning Halloween night, we will eat about five percent of the candy we will eat all year.

-About 30% of children sort their candy when they get home from Halloween trick-or-treating

Tooth enamel erosion is a wearing and breakdown of the thin outer layer covering the teeth. This strong outer layer (enamel) is the hardest tissue in the human body. The main part of your tooth is the layer under the tooth enamel and that is called dentin.

Tooth enamel helps protect your teeth from daily use. This includes things such as chewing, biting, crunching, and tooth grinding. Even though tooth enamel is super strong it can chip and crack over time with use. Tooth enamel also acts as an insulator from potentially painful temperature changes or even harsh chemicals (acids).

Tooth enamel is not able to repair itself like a broken bone can. Once a tooth fractures or chips the damage is forever. The reason for this is that the tooth enamel has no living cells, unlike the second layer (dentin), which does. So the body is unable to repair enamel like it might a  broken bone.

erosion of tooth enamel

Tooth Enamel Erosion

Tooth Enamel Erosion

Tooth enamel erosion occurs when acids  wear away the tooth enamel. Tooth enamel erosion is just one of the many causes of tooth discomfort or pain. Tooth enamel erosion occurs when excess acid in the mouth wears away the tooth enamel. Usually the calcium present in saliva will help to neutralize the acids in the foods or liquids we ingest. But if you eat or drink a lot of highly acidic foods,

(alcohol, soda, citrus, (lemons, limes), cheeses are a few examples), the calcium in your saliva will not be able to keep up its job. This will shift the balance from one of a neutral environment to one that is more acidic. Pure fruit juices and Carbonated drinks are highly acidic. If you drink large amounts of these drinks you are increasing your chances for tooth enamel erosion.

Other causes of Tooth Enamel Erosion

-Dry mouth or Xerostomia. This is lowered salivary flow that can be due to many factors. These factors include systemic disease or even medications.

-Acid reflux disease (GERD=gastroesophageal reflux disease)

-Gastrointestinal problems

-Medications. Such as aspirin or antihistamines or even penicillin.

-Genetics. This plays a role in how acidic your mouth may be. Your mouth may lean towards acidic anyway and your lifestyle will just exacerbate the issue of tooth enamel erosion.

tooth enamel erosion acid reflux

Tooth Enamel Erosion from Acid Reflux Disease

-Environmental factors. Teeth grinding and stress will increase the amount of tooth enamel erosion by causing physical damage to the teeth. This will thin out the tooth enamel giving the acids in your diet an even easier time of causing tooth enamel erosion.

-Bulimia. This disease has been shown to cause tooth enamel erosion. Bulimia is associated with binge eating and vomiting. The release of stomach acids into the mouth will cause tooth enamel erosion over time.

Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Enamel Erosion

Tooth Pain. When tooth enamel erosion occurs, you may experience tooth pain from hot and cold food. Remember, the tooth enamel serves as a protective insulating layer. As it thins out you are more susceptible to these changes.

Discoloration. You may begin to notice a yellowing of teeth during tooth enamel erosion. This is because the dentin ( which, is naturally yellow in color ) is becoming exposed as the enamel wears thin and translucent and allows the dentin color to show through.

Transparency. As the tooth enamel erodes and this layer becomes thinner light may be able to shine thru and give the appearance that the tooth is transparent.

Cracks and Cups. Cracks and small indentations may develop from tooth enamel erosion.

Severe and Painful Sensitivity. Certain foods (sweets) and temperatures of foods (hot or cold) may cause a twinge of pain and discomfort in the early stage of tooth enamel erosion.

man smiling-Smooth, shiny surfaces on the teeth. Tooth enamel erosion causes mineral loss on these areas  which gives the teeth a glazed look to them.

When tooth enamel erosion occurs, the tooth is more prone to cavities or tooth decay. When the tooth decay enters the hard enamel, it has an easier entry to the inner parts of the tooth.

Prevention

-Maintain proper dental hygiene. This includes visiting your dentist regularly for dental examinations and cleanings. As well as brushing after every meal and flossing at least once a day.

Eliminate highly acidic foods and drinks. These include carbonated sodas, lemons, and other citrus fruits and juices. An important tip is to rinse your mouth immediately with water after ingesting these liquids. This will wash the acids from your mouth as well as bring your mouth back to a neutral pH state. If you do decide to continue to drink citrus or fruit juices choose ones that are low acidic in content. Wait for a minimum of 1 hour to brush teeth after it has been exposed to acids in food or drinks. Acid leaves the enamel softened and more prone to tooth enamel erosion during brushing.

-Use a straw. When drinking acidic drinks use a straw. This pushes the acidic liquid to the back of your mouth bypassing the teeth.

-Keep track of snacks. Snacking during the day with out brushing increases the risk for tooth decay. Following snacking the mouth will be acidic for a few hours until you are able to brush and rinse your mouth. Try to avoid snacking unless you are able to rinse your mouth and brush your teeth afterwards.

-Chew sugar free gum. Chewing gum stimulates salivary flow. Studies have shown it can increase up to 10X normal when chewing gum. Try to choose xylitol gum as it has been shown to reduce the acids in the mouth.

-Drink more water throughout your day if you have low saliva volume or dry mouth.

-Use a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride strengthens teeth so use a commercially available fluoride toothpaste.

-Talk to your dentist about daily fluoride mouthwash, like ACT anti cavity rinse, if you have a history of cavities.

Restoration

There  are a few ways to restore the damages to tooth enamel caused by erosion. Your dentist will be able to evaluate the best course of treatment for your situation. In some cases, dental bonding can be used to protect the tooth as well as increase the aesthetics. If the tooth enamel erosion is more significant, a crown may be necessary to restore and protect the tooth from any more damage that might occur.

Tooth enamel erosion can be a very serious problem for patients as it worsens. Regular dental examinations will reveal the problem before it becomes too big. If you have any concerns about tooth enamel erosion ask your dentist at your next visit.