Is your diet ruining your teeth?

We all know we need to clean our teeth twice a day, but how many of us really think about what we eat and drink and how it affects our teeth?

But 8 out of 10 of us are risking developing acid erosion because of our diet, according to a new survey. And 3 in 4 dentists are seeing acid erosion on children’s teeth every week, caused by the acids in everyday food and drinks.

Research from toothpaste manufacturers Sensodyne Pronamel discovered that 7 out of 10 of us don’t know that fruit can potentially harm our teeth or that salad dressing is also damaging to our teeth.

And although most of us realise how bad fizzy drinks are for teeth almost half of people surveyed don’t know that some still drinks can also be bad for teeth.

Find out more about acid erosion and what you can do to stop damaging your teeth.

What is acid erosion?

Acid erosion is what happens when acid that is found in food and drink
comes into contact with teeth, softening the hard enamel surface on our
teeth. When we then brush our teeth, the enamel can be worn away more
easily and become thinner, making our teeth feel and look different in
texture and shape.

Acid erosion is on the rise in children. Half of 5-year-olds are showing
signs of tooth surface loss, while around 30% of 12-year-olds have a
similar problem.

What can you do?

Dentist Professor Jimmy Steele from the University of Newcastle has the
following advice to help avoid acid erosion.

* Don’t brush your teeth after eating fruit or drinking fruit juice. The
acids in fruit soften the enamel on your teeth and make it easier for
it to wear away. Ideally, you should clean your teeth before breakfast.

* Follow acidic snacks, like fruit, with a glass of water or milk to
wash away as much of the acid as possible

* See your dentist: regular check-ups should make sure that nothing too
bad happens to your teeth, because it will be picked up.

How should I change my diet?

It’s not just what you eat and drink that can damage your teeth – it’s how you eat it.

Anita Bean, a registered nutritionist, reveals that some habits that
your children have could be doing serious harm to their teeth and making
acid erosion worse.

‘Acidic food and drinks, such as fruit, fruit juice, fizzy drinks, some
soft drinks, and other food like jam and tomato ketchup are common in
kids’ diets. Often it’s how these are eaten that is the problem.’

Anita recommends doing the following to help prevent acid erosion:
* Encourage children to drink acidic drinks through a straw and make
sure it’s placed near the back of the mouth so the drink is directed
away from the teeth
* Peel oranges and give them segments to eat, rather than letting them
suck on quarters
* Replace acidic snacks with foods that are kind to teeth, like yoghurt,
cheese or raw vegetable sticks, such as carrot, celery or cucumber
* Dairy helps to offset some of the damage to teeth that acid causes.
Finish a meal off with a glass of milk, cheese or yoghurt. These are
also full of calcium which is great for building strong bones and teeth.

More help and advice

6 steps to improving your teeth
More advice on taking care of your child’s teeth
Worried about your kids’ diet? Chat to other mums for advice