Don’t Let Your Children’s Teeth Throbbing Pain After Tooth Extraction Erode Out of Kindness
From the day the first tooth came in, you’ve been diligent about your child’s dental care. Regular visits to your family dentist for check ups, daily brushing, flossing and a healthy diet are all part of your routine. You have even cut down on sugary drinks and replaced them with healthy fruit , wait…
While it’s great that you are paying attention to the nutritional value of the foods you give to your child, it is also a good idea to keep in mind that every rose has a thorn. There are trade offs to be made when considering food and drink for optimal health, which includes the condition of your child’s teeth. Not well known among parents is the fact that fruit juices contain acids, the very same culprits found in soft drinks, that can contribute to a special form of tooth decay known as dental erosion.
Dental erosion is the direct wearing away or dissolving of tooth enamel that results from being exposed to acid containing beverages and other foods. In extreme cases of dental erosion, the teeth can be virtually worn down to stumps. Unlike ordinary tooth decay in which bacteria in the mouth produce acids that cause cavities (also known as ‘caries’), the dental erosion we are discussing here is a direct effect from what we choose to eat and drink. It is as if, by downing acid containing drinks we have by passed the middlemen, the bacteria, and gone directly into the business of wrecking our teeth ourselves!
Health experts are increasingly concerned about the rise in dental erosion among children and teens. It has been reported that kids as young as four have needed to get their teeth capped because of this enamel loss. It seems that youngsters are even more vulnerable to dental erosion because a) they have less exposure to fluoride, which acts to protect the teeth and b) they do tend to drink a lot of sodas and juice drinks. An estimated one out of every eight teenagers in the UK drinks 22 cans of soda per week! Guess who’s at the greatest risk for dental erosion?
The Worst Offenders
Adding insult to injury, the often recommended practice of brushing teeth right after meals can make dental erosion worse. That is because the acid in your drink goes to work immediately. Try sucking on a lemon or sipping a can of cola, then run your tongue over the inside of your teeth. See how sludgy it feels? That is the tooth enamel that has been softened by the acid in your drink. Notice too, how quickly it works. Because of this fast acting nature of the food acids, dentists now recommend that you wait thirty minutes after consuming such foods before brushing your teeth. This gives your saliva a chance to neutralize the acid and reverse the softening.
Now we are not saying that all fruit juice is bad. Fruit contains many vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health, so it is important to include fruit and yes, fruit juice in you family’s healthy diet. Just be aware that orange juice and other citrus varieties contain citric acid, on of the leading culprits in dental erosion. In fact, it is the citric acid along with phosphoric acid, not carbonation, in soft drinks that adds soda to the rogues gallery of causes for tooth erosion. More pertinent to adults, wine has been implicated in dental erosion since wine’s acidity is comparable to that of orange juice.
You don’t have to toss that newly purchased of orange juice, however, understand that it is the frequency, not the amount of juice that can make or break a pattern of dental erosion in your children’s and your own teeth. Try applying these common sense guidelines: serve fruit juice with meals, not in between. Serve fruit juice diluted with water to reduce the acid content, and don’t get into the habit of using fruit juice in a bottle as a ‘comforter’ for a baby or young child. Little ones who spend time sucking on a juice bottle or a ‘sippy’ cup of juice may fall into as great a risk for dental erosion as those soda guzzling teens!
What to Look For – Signs of Eroded Teeth
Some early signs of dental erosion can be easy to spot if you pay attention. How do your teeth feel when exposed to heat, such as drinking hot coffee or tea, drinking cold beverages or sweets? If you No Judgement Dentist Near Me experience pain or sensitivity with these food choices, it may indicate that the tooth enamel has been worn away, exposing the sensitive inner part of the tooth (called ‘dentine’) to the irritant.
When considering your children’s teeth, pay attention to any color changes. There are two to look for; translucence and yellowing. The cutting edge of the central teeth (called ‘incisors’) can become translucent with erosion and wear. The yellow color can be seen anywhere that the white enamel has worn thin enough that the yellowish dentine shows through. If you become concerned about erosion on your child’s teeth, or your own, see you dentist for a thorough examination. If erosion is detected, consider developing a treatment plan to address it.
The Best Cure is Prevention
As we discussed above, simple changes in the way your serve fruit juices to your family can go a long way to reduce the risk of tooth erosion. Here are some other ways to add more protection through prevention:
Drink milk or plain water – natures natural substances that are good for your teeth. Milk and other high calcium foods help strengthen your choppers by restoring the mineral content
Brush gently with a soft bristled toothbrush. Reducing the abrasive forces your teeth are subjected to goes a long way towards keeping them intact
It you, or junior, absolutely must have fruit juice, sports drinks or sods, try drinking these beverages through a straw. That directs the liquid away from the teeth and reduces your exposure. Also, try rinsing your mouth with plain water after drinking to reduce the acid content, then wait 30 minutes before brushing.
By following the simple steps outlined here, and seeing your dentist for regular check ups, you can help your family avoid making an unpleasant acquaintance with tooth erosion.