6. Avoid Acidic Foods and Beverages

Anything you eat or drink affects your dental health, sometimes with damaging results. Even wine, which some studies suggest may benefit cardiovascular health, can damage your teeth and enamel. A case study in the Journal of the American Dental Association takes a closer look at wine as an instigator of dental erosion.

Dental erosion, or the loss of tooth enamel due to chemicals, has numerous causes. Chief among them are dietary factors.

Dental erosion causes a scooped out, smooth depression on the tooth's surface. In many cases, erosion causes sensitivity to hot and cold substances. Tooth sensitivity can be painful especially if the enamel is worn down so the dentin is exposed. Beneath the enamel, dentin protects the pulp – the innermost part of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels.

Wine is a highly acidic drink, with white wine being slightly more acidic than red. The report’s author, Louis Mandel, D.D.S., describes the effect of wine on enamel saying, "Because the critical point at which enamel dissolves is reported to be a pH of 5.0 to 5.7, wine can be a serious player in dental erosion." Thus, prolonged exposure to the acids in wine can lead to softening of the tooth enamel. He adds, "The altered enamel now becomes susceptible to wearing away" by chewing and tooth brushing.

Dr. Mandel presents the case report "because wine gradually has become part of society's diet and because dentists are in the key position to note the dental damage it can cause."

Other dietary factors involved in enamel erosion include fruits, juices and candies with high concentrations of citric acid and carbonated beverages. Dental erosions can have a myriad of causes, from reflux disease, gastritis or bulimia to the prolonged oral retention of medications such as hydrochloric acid tablets, vitamin C or aspirin. To find out the cause, it's important to have the condition evaluated by a dentist.

Dr. Mandel has additional advice to wine drinkers: Restrict wine consumption to meal-time; use fluoride toothpastes, mouthwashes and topical applications; use proper brushing techniques with a soft toothbrush; and delay brushing at least 30 minutes after drinking wine and other acidic beverages so that teeth have time to remineralize after acid exposure.

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