The acidity found in fruits that you eat every day can contribute to a common problem known as acid erosion. Many of the citrus fruits that people consume on a daily basis are related to this problem. Luckily, there are many preventative measures and self-care practices that can be implemented to limit its effects. 

What Is Acid Erosion?

           Acid erosion on teeth is caused by having frequent contact and exposure to acidic substances. Acid erosion or enamel erosion is identified by the holistic deterioration of a tooth. Visually, the teeth turn yellow and look shorter in height. As the erosion progresses, when more dentin is exposed, the symptoms can worsen. Another symptom of enamel erosion is pain, more specifically when the teeth are touched, or if there are drastic changes in temperature from hot to cold, or cold to hot. Once the enamel has eroded, it cannot be replaced or put back, which is why there are preventative measures ordered by dentists to limit the effects that acids have on teeth. 

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pH and Its Role in Enamel Erosion

           Understanding the pH of a substance is crucial in determining how it will affect one’s oral health. The acidity or pH of fruits and other foods are measured on a scale of one to fourteen, one being acidic, to fourteen, alkaline. Lower pH values mean higher acidity levels. Enamel erosion is the result of having an acid-rich diet and can put teeth at risk for permanent damage. 

           The enamel in teeth can withstand pH’s at or above 5.5 before eroding, which is why it is crucial to make sure that your diet is nutrient-rich, and takes acid into consideration. Reducing the amount of acid intake every day, and limiting the frequency of exposure can significantly limit the effects it has on your teeth. 

Acidic Fruits

What fruits in my diet could contribute to acid erosion?

Here is a list of the ten most acidic fruits (in order from most severe to least severe): 

● Lemons

● Cherries

● Oranges

● Plums

● Blackberries, Blueberries, Strawberries

● Grapefruits

● Cranberries

● Apples

● Pears

● Apricots

           Do you consume a lot of the fruits found on this list? Although most of these are consumed to maintain healthy levels of vitamin C, the citrusy fruits with less acidic are just as reliable for your vitamin C needs. Keep on reading to learn more about the fruit’s role in enamel erosion, and how to prevent it from happening!

The Good, The Bad, The Acid

Now that I know which fruits are harmful, what exactly do they do?

           When you consume acidic fruits, they wear off the calcium found in enamel. Enamel is a very tough and hard substance, but through repeated contact with acid on a daily basis, over an extended period of time, it will soften and weaken the outer layer of teeth. 

Even if the exposure to acid doesn’t last long, it commences a process of decay and extracts critical structural minerals that are found in the enamel of teeth. Although we have minerals in our saliva, when the teeth are exposed to large amounts or have ubiquitous contact with acid, it cannot keep up with the damages. 

How to Prevent Acid Erosion

What you can do to reduce the effects of acid on your teeth

           In order to have a well-balanced diet, we have to consume a wide variety of foods. In order to have healthy teeth, we have to consume a wide range of pHs. Here are several methods of maintaining healthy teeth: 

           Firstly, maintaining healthy oral hygiene practices. Brushing your teeth two times a day is essential to reduce the effects of enamel erosion. There are particular kinds of toothpaste on the market designed to strengthen and reharden enamel that has been damaged. 

           Secondly, the way that you eat food can also aid in preventing enamel erosion from occurring. When consuming an acidic fruit, taking a drink of milk raises your mouth’s pH in an effort to neutralize the acidic qualities of the fruit. Rinsing your mouth out with water or mouthwash can minimize the effects of acid as well. If you chew sugar-free gum, the chewing sensation activates the salivary glands to make them produce more saliva. The saliva aids in the rehardening and restoration process for enamel. 

           Thirdly, contrary to what we might believe, waiting a while after consuming acidic fruits is more beneficial to oral health. If you brush immediately after consuming acids, the toothpaste will facilitate the softening of enamel, and the toothbrush irritates and creates friction on teeth. If you wait an hour after consuming such fruits to brush, the teeth will have had time to recover and will have been exposed to the minerals in saliva to harden before being brushed and cleaned. 

Treatment Options

What can be done after the fact?

           Although the effects of enamel erosion progress, and can worsen over time, there are some techniques that dental hygienists can use to fix and reverse the process. The first is called tooth bonding. A tooth-colored resin is applied to the teeth to patch up areas that have been discolored by the erosion. Dentists can also add veneers and crowns to prevent further damage. Dental veneers are teeth-colored, shell-like materials that are molded and placed over the surface of teeth to eliminate future exposure to acidic substances that can further wear the teeth. Dental crowns are essentially caps placed on teeth that cover the teeth completely. The main difference between crowns and veneers are: veneers just cover the front of teeth, while crowns cover the entire tooth. 

Conclusion

As we have discussed during this article, it is essential to remember:

● Enamel erosion is caused by a high frequency of exposure to acidic substances.

● Many fruits are high in acid content.

● Practicing good oral hygiene habits, reducing the amount of low pH fruit consumed, and pairing acidic foods with less acidic foods are a few ways of preventing acid erosion.

● Although enamel erosion is permanent, there are several treatment solutions to prevent further damage and decay.

Resources: 

https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(18)30263-0/fulltext
https://www.sensodyne.co.uk/about-enamel-wear/acid-erosion/causes.html
https://www.gskhealthpartner.com/en-gb/oral-health/conditions/enamel-wear/causes-and-mechanisms/
https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/tooth-enamel-protection#2

https://www.healthline.com/health/enamel-erosion#treatment-and-prevention

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