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Acid erosion (sometimes called tooth erosion or dental erosion) “occurs when tooth enamel is worn away by acids found in every day foods…. The acid softens tooth enamel, and during regular brushing, the softened enamel can be worn away more easily and become thinner over time. Acid erosion damages your enamel and gradually changes the shape, texture and appearance of your teeth.” Our saliva seeks to neutralize the acidity to restore the mouth’s natural balance, but thanks to things in our diets like fruits and diet sodas, our saliva can’t always work fast enough. Symptoms of erosion range from mild sensitivity to serious cracking in the teeth.

To help our mouths and teeth out, here are five of the worst offenders for our teeth and enamel. There’s probably not any need to eliminate these foods and drinks entirely, because many of them are part of a healthy, balanced diet, but when you eat or drink these five items, it may be wise to brush your teeth afterwards.

1- Pretty much all the berries and citrus fruits: oranges, lemons, grapefruits, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, including the juices. These healthy choices are great for our bodies and are full of antioxidants and other nutritional boosts. Just remember to clean up after you enjoy them.

2- Sodas and sports drinks: did you know that clear sodas are actually more acidic than brown? Root beer is generally thought to be the least acidic as it is free of citric acid. A healthy diet will already have these drinks in moderation.

3- Yogurt/Sour cream: these dairy foods have high levels of lactic acid, which causes erosion.

4- Pickled products: it’s all the vinegar.

5- Fermented foods: like tofu. A car battery has an acid level of 1.00, tofu clocks in at 7.20. YIKES!

It’s alright to enjoy all these foods, just remember to rinse your mouth with water after, brush twice daily for two minutes, and don’t brush immediately after eating. The foods which soften our enamel can remain on our teeth for an hour. If you brush while your enamel is soft, you may actually do more harm than good. Stick to swishing with clean water and brush before bed!

For more information, contact your dentist or check out the American Dental Association‘s website.

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