Is your new diet damaging your teeth?

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2022 marks the start of another year. It’s a magical time of year where a brand new year with new opportunities lies ahead. If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to improve your health and fitness, be mindful of how this could affect your teeth.

Breaking old habits can be quite a challenge, and while some dietary changes appear to have overall health benefits, we have seen some negative impacts on teeth, including dental erosion. Dental erosion is the chemical loss of mineralised/hard tissue tooth substances caused by exposure to acids not derived from oral bacteria.

Lemon water has become a popular beverage in our pursuit of healthier living. It involves adding slices of lemon and lemon juice to plain water. There are claims that the health benefits include; cleansing our livers, boosting immunity, and maintaining heart health, to name a few! These may or may not be accurate. However, in dental clinical practice, we have noticed an increase in dental/tooth erosion associated with long-term consumption of lemon water or acidic products and drinks.

Lemon juice has a pH of around 2-3, which means it is about 10,000-100,000   times more acidic than water! Enamel will begin to erode at a pH of 4.5-5.5! Even if you dilute lemon juice, the pH level will remain too acidic for frequent consumption. Lemon water is often consumed in the morning or sipped throughout the day. Regular exposure to acidic liquids in your mouth inhibits the natural buffering system of saliva to neutralise acids and protect your teeth. Chronic consumption of low-grade acidic beverages can increase enamel erosion. You may notice;

  • Yellowing of your teeth
  • Increased sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Translucency on the edges of your front teeth

Apple cider vinegar is another product that has recently gained much traction in the health arena. We are not here to dispute the positive impact it may have on your health. However, it is essential to realise that high or frequent consumption may increase the acidic oral environment. Apple cider vinegar has a pH of 2-3. Using this product may also coincide with eating a higher volume of fresh fruit, increasing the acid levels in your mouth!

Erosion of your teeth usually has a multifactorial cause. Therefore, being aware of how food and drink affect your health and your teeth is essential in maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

What can you do?

You can drink through a straw, so your teeth have less contact with the acid, and consume your drink in one go, rather than sipping it throughout the day.

Neutralizing your mouth after consuming acidic products is also very important.

  • Plain water and waiting at least half an hour before brushing can also help
  • Using fluoridated toothpaste and remineralising products are highly recommended

Regular dental checkups can help identify any potentially harmful factors in your diet. In addition, talk to your dentists about any changes you have made to your diet and what products are available to help manage dental erosion.

Dr Francine Chia, Singapore Dentist, Cosmetic dentist

Dr Francine Chia trained in Adelaide, Australia and has over 15 years clinical experience. Dr Chia has been a member of the Smilefocus team since 2008.  She particularly enjoys cosmetic dentistry and has specific training in Invisalign and Cfast.  Dr Chia’s motivation is to help improve your smile while encouraging optimal oral hygiene and health.