Can a healthy diet have a negative impact on your teeth?

Tooth Erosion

There is a boom with “healthy food” trends which promote juicing and drinking lemon water due to their supposed health benefits. The change in the dietary habits and the tendency to have a “healthy diet” is having a direct impact on our teeth increasing the prevalence of tooth wear especially affecting the young adults.

Dental caries used to be the biggest threat to oral health but the rise of tooth wear is now taking over. In the UK, more than 30% of the adult population suffer from dental erosion.

What is dental erosion? It is the gradual dissolving of the tooth structure (enamel and dentin) caused by acids.

The acids may come from reflux or vomiting habits (intrinsic origin) or the consumption of acidic food or drinks (extrinsic origin).

Placing a few slices of lemon in your water, fizzy drinks, fruit juices, etc. cause an acidic environment in the mouth which dissolves the outermost layer of the tooth structure. It is key to have a healthy and balanced diet to preserve your oral health but this is not enough, you need to be aware of the acidity of the components of your diet.

Acidity is measured by its ‘pH value’, and anything that has a pH value lower than 5.5 is too acidic and can harm your teeth. See the table below to find out the pH of common foods and drinks.

The greater the number of erosive products consumed per day, and the more often they are

consumed, the greater the risk of erosion. In addition, the hazard increases if the acidic product is sipped over an extended period or taken in between meals. On the other hand, drinking it through a straw positioned on the back of your palate can reduce the risk of erosion.

Fizzy drinks, soft drinks, and carbonated drinks all can cause erosion. It is important to remember that even the ‘diet’ brands are still harmful. Acidic foods and drinks such as fruit (green apples, pineapples, grapes) and fruit juices – particularly citrus ones including lemon and orange – contain natural acids which can be harmful to your teeth, especially if you have a lot of them often. You should eat them as part of a meal and not by themselves

‘Alcopops’, ‘coolers’ and ‘designer drinks’ that contain acidic fruits and are fizzy can cause erosion too.

Plain still water is the best drink for teeth. Milk is also good because it helps to cancel out the acids in your mouth. The consumption of yogurt too has a protective effect against dental erosion.