With our modern day diet, dentists are now becoming increasingly concerned about a condition known as pathological tooth wear. Although the condition can be caused by multiple factors, one of the main contributing sources is acid in the diet. Many foods and drinks we consume contain high levels of acid. It can be present in the form of vinagarette dressings, wine and of course fresh citrus juices.
The acids can actually attack the enamel (outer structure) of your tooth and cause it to dissolve away over a period of time (erosive wear).
Wear is considered pathological when the wear is occurring at such a rate that the appearance and function is significantly affected and symptoms such as acute sensitivity occur. In a well-known study ten years ago, an estimated 5–7% of 1,007 adults studied had toothwear that could justify treatment.
Like everything the key is moderation so you might want to cut back on the volume and frequency of orange juice you are consuming. In addition, there are several things you can do to reduce the effect that the acid has on your teeth:
- Never brush your teeth immediately after drinking citrus juice. Allow at least half an hour so your saliva can neutralise some of the effect and remineralize the surface at least partially prior to then physically scrubbing the softened enamel.
- Try never to have citrus juices just before bedtime as your saliva levels at night will be lower and therefore have less protective effect
- Try to drink through a straw. This minimises the actual contact of the juice with the teeth
- Try to drink juice chilled. At lower temperatures, the acidic effects are less pronounced and therefore will do less damage
It is important to your dentist regularly so he/she can monitor your teeth and identify wear and the progression of wear over time. They can provide you with further individual appropriate advice should this pathological wear continue and become a bigger problem for you.