Dental enamel is the thin, outer layer of hard tissue that helps maintain the tooth's structure and shape while protecting it from decay.
While eating fruit is important part of a balanced diet, how you eat it may be ruining your teeth, says David Bartlett, BDS, PhD. Frequently consuming foods with a low pH (potential of hydrogen) value, such as fresh fruit, pickles, yogurt, honey, fruit juices and raisins can lead to irreversible dental erosion.
Eventually, because of repeated exposure to acid, the tooth’s enamel will lose its shape and color and as the damage progresses; the underlying dentin, (which is the tissue that makes up the core of each tooth), becomes exposed causing the teeth to look yellow.
To prevent tooth erosion, Dr. Bartlett advises patients who eat or drink an acidic food or beverage to wait at least 20 minutes before brushing the teeth so as not to destroy the weakened enamel. He also suggests eating acidic foods within five minutes, instead of snacking on them throughout the day, and eating these foods just during meal times in order to minimize the amount of time the acid is on the teeth.
Dr. Bartlett also encourages patients to talk to their dentist about the use of dentin bonding to help prevent tooth erosion, a procedure he will share with attendees during his course at the AGD’s annual meeting. Dentin bonding is when the dentist paints a very thin layer (about the thickness of plastic cling film) which is painted on the surfaces of teeth showing signs of erosion. “Together, with dietary advice and daily desensitizing toothpaste, the aim is to prevent and treat early or moderate signs of erosion on the teeth,” says Dr. Bartlett.
Early signs of tooth erosion consist of dentin hypersensitivity. In other words, if hot or cold foods and beverages cause pain or sensitivity this is an indication of tooth erosion. Dentists may also recommend daily use of an OTC fluoridated anti-hypersensitivity toothpaste with a neutral pH to help re-harden softened tooth enamel.