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  • Writer's pictureDr. Sophocles Voyiazis - Prosthodontist

Are Your Favorite Foods Causing Dental Erosion? Tips from a Prosthodontist

Updated: Feb 14

Wondering if your daily indulgences are doing more harm than good to your smile? You're not alone!

Our readers have been asking a crucial question: "Are Your Favorite Foods Causing Dental Erosion?" It's a valid concern, and it's true that certain foods and drinks can indeed contribute to this increasingly common dental issue.

To shed light on this critical link between diet and dental erosion, we had the privilege at My French Dietitian to converse with Dr. Sophocles Voyiazis, a distinguished prosthodontist.


Dr. Voyiazis, with his extensive expertise in restorative and prosthetic dentistry, will answer your most pressing questions about how to protect your teeth from dietary threats and maintain a healthy, beautiful smile.


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Doctor Sophocles Voyiazis, Prosthodontist

Chapters:



What is dental erosion and how does it occur?

Tooth erosion is like the slow erosion of a very hard sea rock. In simpler terms, it's the wearing away of the outer layer of your teeth called enamel which is the hardest substance produced by the human body.

Imagine enamel as a protective layer that shields your teeth from harm. When it erodes, the inner layer, dentine, is exposed and your teeth become vulnerable to all sorts of problems, says Dr. Voyiazis.

Dental erosion is mostly caused by exposure to an acidic environment. This can be the result of consumption of acidic foods and beverages or from stomach acids in conditions like acid reflux. Over time, the enamel erodes and can lead to tooth sensitivity, discoloration, and increased risk of cavities.



What are the signs and symptoms of dental erosion?

Signs of dental erosion include tooth sensitivity, especially to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks, as well as changes in tooth color, transparency at the edges of teeth, and indentations or circular pits on the tooth surface.

In advanced stages, teeth may appear rounded, thin, or chipped.


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What are the long-term consequences of dental erosion?

Long-term consequences of dental erosion include increased susceptibility to cavities, tooth sensitivity, and cosmetic concerns such as tooth discoloration and changes in tooth shape. When combined with bruxism (grinding of teeth, usually during sleep), we can have severe attrition (wearing down of teeth) which can even result to changes in the vertical dimension of the lower face (distance from nose to chin when biting).

In severe cases, erosion can lead to tooth loss or the need for extensive dental treatment to restore the correct vertical dimension of occlusion and thus the correct vertical dimension of the lower face. This treatment is referred to as a full-mouth prosthetic rehabilitation and, with the advancement of adhesive techniques, can today be achieved with the use of onlays and veneers (instead of crowns).

With the use of onlays and veneers the prosthetic rehabilitation is much less aggressive since minimal further reduction of tooth structure is required, as opposed to the older techniques with the use of crowns.


dental tip

How can I assess my risk for dental erosion?

According to Dr. Voyiazis, assessing your risk for dental erosion involves considering your dietary habits, medical history, and lifestyle factors.

If you consume acidic foods and beverages frequently, have conditions like acid reflux, or exhibit habits like teeth grinding, you may be at higher risk for erosion.

Reduced function of the salivary glands (for example after radiotherapy because of cancer) significantly increases the risk for severe erosion and tooth decay, since saliva neutralizes acids and thus acts as a natural protective mechanism against acidic attacks on tooth structure.



How does diet affect tooth erosion? 

Nutrition plays a significant role in tooth erosion. What you eat and drink can directly impact the health of your teeth, warns Dr. Voyiazis.

Certain foods and beverages, particularly those high in acidity and sugar, can erode tooth enamel over time. Continuous exposure to acidic and sugary substances can contribute to the erosion of enamel and decay, leading to dental problems and the need for treatment by the dentist.


Which foods and beverages are most likely to cause tooth erosion?

Some foods and beverages high in sugar or acidity are most likely to cause tooth erosion.

Additionally, frequent consumption of sugary snacks and drinks throughout the day can accelerate tooth erosion by prolonging exposure to acids, making the teeth more susceptible to damage and decay.

Sipping a soft drink for hours while sitting in front of a computer screen for example, is much worse than drinking the same quantity of soft drink in a short period of time. This is because by drinking slowly for a long period of time, you create an acidic environment in your mouth for a much longer period of time and this habit can be catastrophic for your teeth.


Here are some foods that are generally bad for your teeth:

Sugary Foods and Drinks: Foods and drinks high in sugar, such as candies, sodas, juices, and sweetened snacks, can contribute to tooth decay. Sugar feeds bacteria in your mouth, leading to the production of acids that erode tooth enamel and cause cavities.

Acidic Foods and Beverages: Acidic foods and beverages, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar-based dressings, and carbonated drinks, can erode tooth enamel over time. Frequent consumption of acidic foods and drinks can lead to enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity.


a person holding a soda

Sticky and Chewy Foods: Sticky and chewy foods like caramels, dried fruits, and chewy candies can adhere to the surfaces of your teeth and linger in your mouth longer than other foods. This prolonged exposure to sugars increases the risk of tooth decay and cavities.

Starchy Foods: Starchy foods like potato chips, crackers, and bread can break down into sugars in your mouth, providing fuel for bacteria that produce acids. These acids can attack tooth enamel and contribute to tooth decay if not properly cleaned from the teeth.

Citrus Fruits: While citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are nutritious, they are also acidic and can erode tooth enamel if consumed frequently or in large quantities. It's best to consume citrus fruits in moderation and rinse your mouth with water afterward to minimize the effects of acidity.

Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages, especially those with high sugar content like cocktails and sweetened mixers, can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Alcohol also reduces saliva production, which is essential for rinsing away food particles and neutralizing acids in the mouth.


a barman making cocktails

Sports and Energy Drinks: Sports and energy drinks often contain high levels of sugar and acidity, making them harmful to tooth enamel. Regular consumption of these drinks can increase the risk of cavities and erosion.

Ice: While ice itself is not harmful, chewing on ice cubes can chip or crack your teeth. In already weakened teeth (for example teeth with large amalgam restorations and root canal treatments) it can lead to vertical fractures and tooth loss.

Hard Candies: Hard candies are not only high in sugar but also pose a risk of dental injury if bitten down on too hard. They also tend to linger in the mouth, exposing your teeth to sugar for extended periods.

Coffee and Tea: While coffee and tea have health benefits, they can stain your teeth over time, especially if consumed frequently and without adequate oral hygiene practices. Adding sugar or acidic flavorings can further contribute to tooth decay.




What role does saliva play in protecting against dental erosion, especially during sleep?

Imagine this scenario: You finish your lunch with a nice slice of chocolate cake, sit on the couch, and feel the sleep coming. You want to nap for 30 minutes before going back to your usual activities. However, what you may not realize is that during sleep, saliva production naturally decreases.


woman sleeping

Saliva plays a crucial role in protecting against dental erosion by neutralizing acids in the mouth, remineralizing tooth enamel, and maintaining an optimal pH balance. However, during sleep, your mouth produces less saliva, leaving your teeth more vulnerable to acid attacks.

If you consume sugary or acidic foods or drinks before napping or sleeping without brushing your teeth, there will be less saliva to protect your teeth. This prolonged exposure to acids and sugars without the buffering effect of saliva increases the risk of dental erosion and decay, especially if the habit persists over time.

So, it's essential to be mindful of your dietary choices, especially before bedtime, and practice good oral hygiene habits.



What dietary changes can I make to reduce my risk of dental erosion?

A balanced diet is key to maintaining dental health. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and dairy products can provide essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C, which promote strong teeth and gums.

To reduce your risk of dental erosion, consider limiting acidic foods and beverages in your diet, using a straw when consuming acidic drinks, rinsing your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods, and practicing good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing with fluoride toothpaste before sleeping to help protect your teeth from erosion and decay during periods of reduced saliva flow. Brushing your teeth immediately after an acidic exposure (eg citrus fruit consumption) is not recommended because brushing the enamel in an acidic environment will lead to increased loss of tooth substance.



Are there any specific dietary supplements or medications that can help protect my teeth from erosion?

While there are no specific dietary supplements or medications designed to prevent dental erosion, maintaining a balanced diet rich in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C (as mentioned above) can support overall dental health and enamel strength.

Using a mouthwash with a high concentration of fluoride and calcium can also be helpful.



Here are some foods and drinks that are good for your teeth:

Water: Water is essential for maintaining good oral health. It helps wash away food particles, dilutes acids in the mouth, and keeps your mouth hydrated, which promotes saliva production—a natural defense against tooth decay.


water

Dairy Products: Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are rich in calcium and phosphorus, which are essential minerals for strengthening tooth enamel and promoting overall dental health. Cheese also stimulates saliva production, helping to protect against tooth decay.

Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables: Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, and celery are excellent choices for your teeth. Their crunchy texture helps to scrub away plaque and debris from the surfaces of your teeth, promoting saliva production and reducing the risk of cavities.

Leafy Greens: Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are packed with vitamins and minerals, including calcium, which helps to strengthen tooth enamel. They also contain folic acid, which promotes healthy gums.

Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, cashews, and sesame seeds, are nutritious snacks that provide a healthy dose of calcium and phosphorus to help strengthen tooth enamel. They also stimulate saliva production, which helps to neutralize acids in the mouth.


almonds

Green and Herbal Teas: Green and herbal teas contain compounds that have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth and reduce the risk of cavities. Additionally, they are lower in acidity compared to coffee and black tea, which can help protect tooth enamel.

Sugar-Free Gum: Chewing sugar-free gum after meals stimulates saliva flow, which helps to wash away food particles and neutralize acids in the mouth. Look for gum sweetened with xylitol, a sugar substitute that has been shown to reduce the risk of cavities.

Fish and Lean Meats: Fish and lean meats like chicken and turkey are excellent sources of protein, phosphorus, and vitamin D, all of which are essential for maintaining strong and healthy teeth and gums.

Berries: While berries are naturally acidic, they are also rich in antioxidants and vitamins that promote overall health. Enjoying berries in moderation and rinsing your mouth with water afterward can help minimize their acidic effects on tooth enamel.


What dental treatments are available for repairing or preventing dental erosion?

Dental treatments for dental erosion may include fluoride treatments, dental sealants, composite resin restorations, veneers, and in severe cases, overlays or crowns to restore and protect the teeth.

Prevention strategies focus on dietary modifications and maintaining good oral hygiene practices.


What are the best practices for brushing and flossing to maintain good oral health?

Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and flossing daily are essential for maintaining good oral health and preventing dental erosion.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle, circular motions to avoid damaging tooth enamel.


Here are some products recommended by Dr Voyiazis, and that you can buy directly from these links:




dental tip

Are there specific recommendations for maintaining good oral hygiene habits after consuming acidic or sugary foods and beverages? 

After consuming acidic or sugary foods and beverages, it's important to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth to allow saliva to neutralize acids and remineralize tooth enamel.

Rinsing your mouth with water can help wash away food particles and acids in the meantime.


How often should I visit my dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings?

It's recommended to visit your dentist every six months for regular check-ups and cleanings.

Your dentist can assess your oral health, identify any signs of erosion or other dental issues, and provide personalized recommendations for maintaining optimal dental health.



Are Your Favorite Foods Causing Dental Erosion? Conclusion

Avoiding some foods and drinks, along with practicing good oral hygiene habits like brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist regularly, can help promote optimal dental health and keep your smile bright and healthy.

 

We would like to thank Dr. Voyiazis for enlightening discussion on the importance of diet in dental health and providing valuable insights into the impact of diet on dental erosion and underscores the significance of making informed dietary choices for optimal oral health.



Book an appointment with Dr. Voyiazis here.


More about Dr. Sophocles Voyiazis, Prosthodontist:

Meet Dr. Sophocles Voyiazis, a seasoned prosthodontist with over 15 years of specialized experience in Prosthodontics and Implantology. Based in Nicosia, Cyprus, Dr. Voyiazis operates his dental clinic, SmileLab, where he combines his passion for dentistry with a commitment to excellence in patient care.

Dr. Voyiazis' journey into dentistry began in his youth, driven by an early fascination with the field. His path to becoming a dentist was marked by academic excellence and a thirst for knowledge. He was the recipient of a prestigious Greek state scholarship (IKY) and earned his dental degree from the University of Athens, Greece, in 2001.


Dr Sophocles Voyiazis from smilelab nicosia

Furthering his education and expertise, Dr. Voyiazis pursued advanced training in Prosthodontics and Oral biology at the renowned Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, Texas, where he obtained his Prosthodontics specialty certificate and an MSc in Oral Biology in 2004. His dedication to mastery led him to a pivotal period as an ITI Scholar under the mentorship of Prof. Belser at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, from 2005 to 2006. Prof. Belser, a luminary in aesthetics, dental implants and conservative adhesive restorative techniques, provided invaluable guidance during this formative phase of Dr. Voyiazis' career and greatly influenced his overall philosophy of following a patient-specific treatment to achieve correct function, healthy tissues and natural aesthetics.


Sophocles Voyiazis speaking on stage

Today, Dr. Voyiazis stands as a distinguished figure in the field of Prosthodontics, blending his wealth of knowledge and practical experience to deliver exceptional dental care to his patients. With a foundation built on passion, education and a patient-centered philosophy, Dr. Voyiazis continues to push the boundaries of excellence in dentistry, trying to achieve a meaningful improvement in the lives of those he serves.


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