"If you are eating sugary foods, the acidity of the plaque on your teeth increases precipitously," Hewlett said.
People often make the situation worse by savoring juices and soft drinks. Holding them in the mouth to enjoy the flavor or the fizzing increases exposure to the acids and sugars in the drinks. "You cause more damage when you drink a large amount and hold it in your mouth to savor the flavor," Pierson said.
Other things contribute to dental erosion, too. Medications such as aspirin can cause erosion, as can conditions such as acid reflux disease or eating disorders associated with chronic vomiting, which expose the teeth to gastric acid.
Pierson believes that dental erosion also is increasing because people are not getting enough fluoride. Many people are eschewing fluoridated public water sources in favor of bottled water, which might not contain fluoride. And they're also substituting soft drinks and juices for water.
"Fluoride helps strengthen the enamel. Erosion is an attack on the enamel," Hewlett said. "You have something that's going to protect it and strengthen it when it's under attack." He recommends that people who aren't drinking public water use a fluoridated toothpaste and mouth rinse.
Another way to help stop erosion is to hold off on brushing your teeth for about a half-hour after drinking a soda or a glass of juice, Hewlett said. If you brush right after, you're adding insult to injury by scrubbing at enamel already softened by the acid attack
"You've removed a microscopic layer of enamel that could have been replenished by the minerals in your saliva," he explained.
Saliva, it turns out, helps protect teeth from people's bad behavior by working to return the pH balance in the mouth to normal and restore minerals leached away by food acids, Hewlett sai
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