Your tooth enamel is the most protective material in your whole body. It covers the entire outer layer of each tooth. It’s responsible for protecting your teeth from erosion and decay; for forming a barrier to protect the sensitive inner layers of your teeth from plaque and acids; and for protecting your teeth from heat and cold.
Enamel is made of a mineralized substance. It contains no living cells, so unlike other parts of your body, it cannot regenerate. Because of this, and because of it’s protective properties, it’s very important to take good care of your dental enamel.
Practicing good oral hygiene habits—brushing at least twice daily, flossing daily, visiting the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups—is a big part of protecting your tooth enamel. However, one of the main causes of enamel erosion is overdoing it with certain foods and drinks. Here’s a handy list of which foods and drinks to avoid or cut back on, in order to keep your enamel strong and healthy.
- Citrus FruitCitrus fruit, such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes, are highly acidic. Acid causes enamel to wear away and can also lead to discolouration. Other acidic fruits to avoid include berries, especially tart ones like cranberries, and tomatoes (and all tomato-based products). However, fruits are also healthy for you in other ways. They contain lots of fibre and vitamin C. The best way to combat the acidity in fruit is to enjoy it with water. You may think that brushing your teeth right after consuming acidic fruit will help, but in fact, this can erode your enamel further because the acid has left the enamel in a temporarily softened state. Rinse your mouth with water and wait a while before brushing.
- Carbonated DrinksNot only do soft drinks contain lots of sugar, but they also contain corrosive acids such as malic acid, citric acid, and phosphoric acid. Drinking too much pop has many other negative effects on your health, due to their sugar and chemical content. It is best to enjoy pop in moderation, if at all.
- VinegarWe consume vinegar often, whether in salad dressings or as seasoning. However, the acid content in vinegar can really erode tooth enamel. Since vinegar is an otherwise healthy, low-fat way to season your food, you don’t need to avoid it completely. However, be aware that it can damage enamel, and always rinse your mouth after consuming it.
These are just a few foods to avoid to protect your precious tooth enamel. The key is to be careful with foods and drinks that are acid-forming. Enjoy them in moderation, and rinse with water after consuming them.