One of the major problems that has plagued dentistry for years is tooth decay. Dentists and other professionals have continually sought ways to decrease the inherent risk for this condition. Several decades ago, the addition of fluoride in community water supply made promising strides in prevention. The statistics on tooth decay have improved; but now children and young adults are facing a new problem: erosion.
How Erosion Differs from Tooth Decay
A cavity is a small hole in a tooth that develops as acidic byproduct weakens a localized area of enamel. Acid is deposited on teeth by oral bacteria, and dentists recommend brushing and flossing as a way to minimize the effects of natural bacterial activity in the mouth. Erosion is a problem that affects the entire surface of enamel. Think of a rocky cliff at the ocean’s edge. After years of constant contact, the cliff loses structural integrity. The same happens to enamel when faced with daily “washings” of acid.
Where is this Acid Coming From?
In recent years, there has been a large shift in the consumption of beverages. Where children used to drink more milk, they now quench their thirst with soda, fruit juice, and sports and energy drinks. Let’s look at soda, the drink of choice for many children and teens. Carbonated colas and other sodas, even those that are sugar-free, are loaded with acidic ingredients; just look at the label. With every sip, these acids coat enamel, attacking this hard outer shell for approximately 20 minutes!
Studies have shown that tooth enamel shows marked signs of erosion after just one week of daily soda consumption. Because children and teens are still in the developmental stages in terms of tooth structure, they are most at risk for weakened enamel.
Protect your Teeth with Good Habits
In today’s society, a great deal of pleasure tends to be gained through food and beverage intake. However, this comes at a cost. The best way to protect teeth from erosion – and from decay – is to limit the intake of carbonated beverages as well as those that are sweetened. Look at labels! Even iced teas contain ingredients such as citric acid, ascorbic acid, and high-fructose corn syrup, all of which attack teeth and the body.
In addition to increasing water intake and limiting unhealthy beverages, good hygiene habits and routine dental care combine to keep teeth and gums in optimally healthy condition. To schedule your exam and cleaning, call New Smiles Dental in Sherwood, Oregon.