August 6, 2020
Oral health during Covid-19 lockdown
The first article of this series highlighted the role of acid and sugar in causing dental erosion. When teeth are exposed to high sugar and acidic foods for long periods, the saliva in our mouths cannot neutralise these acids and this leads to tooth structure breaking down.
The second article explored the various types of foods and beverages which can cause erosion of teeth. Seemingly healthy snacks like muesli bars and fruit juices can cause erosion due to their inherent acidic content.
Saliva in our mouth has an important role in keeping the teeth and gums healthy. They provide a buffer to neutralise acid and also keep bacteria from over growing on the teeth. Without saliva our mouths would be over-run with bacteria and constantly dissolving teeth.
Saliva helps create an environment which enables our teeth to repair after an acid attack.
In order to avoid the teeth eroding we need to:
1) Maintain good saliva quality and quantity.
2) Reduce the frequency of sweet, acidic food and beverage consumption.
3) Lower the amount of plaque on our teeth. ‘Less bacteria less acid produced’.
Some practical things you can do to reduce dental erosion include:
1) Consume enough fluoridated water during the day; this will avoid dehydration and poor saliva quality and quantity.
2) Regular tooth brushing with fluoridated toothpaste to keep the volume of bacteria low and maintain a mix of good bacteria on teeth. Fluoride also makes teeth more resistant to acid attacks.
3) Avoid frequent consumption of acidic drinks and snacking of acidic type foods. Where possible use a straw to drink soft drinks and have these drinks with meals.
4) Soft drinks, coffee, tea or sports drinks should not be a substitute for water.
5) Never brush your teeth immediately after having something acidic. Wait at least half an hour before doing so or rinse your mouth with water.
6) Having acid neutralising foods with acidic foods or beverages like cheeses and nuts.
7) Have regular dental check-ups to have eroding teeth attended to quickly.
I hope these simple tips will keep your teeth from the ravages of dental erosion.
In our next issue we will explore the murky depths of teeth whitening!
Dr Roland Chong