02/06/2010  |  
6 Tips to Help Prevent the Erosion of Tooth Enamel

  1. Don't rush to brush: Waiting for 30 to 60 minutes after sipping on a soda gives teeth time to re-mineralize (essentially re-harden) after the acid softens the surface enamel. Basically, the saliva neutralizes the effects of the acid, by serving as a buffer. Intuitively you might think that brushing right away is the best thing to do, but it isn’t, it will remove the softened surface enamel. Eating cheese also helps neutralize the effects of acid.
  2. Use a straw: If your child has a taste for juice that she just can't shake, serve beverages with a straw. Drinking through a straw will minimize contact between acidic beverages and tooth surfaces thereby reducing dissolution of the enamel.
  3. Cash in on calcium: Calcium is added to many beverages to up their nutritional ante, and research has shown that the presence of calcium not only may reduce the erosive potential of soft drinks, but it may also increase remineralization.
  4. Explore natural alternatives: While children are young and impressionable maintain them on milk and water as their main fluids, keeping them away from acidic drinks and beverages. If this proves unrealistic as they get older, at least limit their ingestion of more acidic beverages to mealtimes when the saliva flow is high, and will neutralize acids more efficiently.
  5. Only brush twice a day: Over-brushing can lead to other problems such as receding gums and the wearing down of enamel. Brush efficiently twice a day with fluoride toothpaste!
  6. Don't eat before bed: (No, this isn't a diet tip.) It takes saliva about an hour to neutralize acids in your mouth, but saliva flow dramatically decreases when you sleep. That's why it's best to finish your last meal/snack at least an hour before bed.

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