These days it seems that everyone needs something to suck on. Our children wander with a sippy cup or pacifier in mouth while their parents always have a latte or diet coke in hand. Yes, sucking and chewing does increase endorphins, perhaps as effectively as Prozac, but there are many down sides to the constant flow of chemicals on our teeth and into our bodies.
Many people are afraid the dentist will find cavities but now dental erosion is one of the most common chronic dental diseases in children and prevalent in many adults. The acidic chemicals in juices and pop can permanently dissolve tooth enamel. Most parents haven’t even heard of dental erosion.
What is dental erosion?
Dental erosion is the irreversible loss of tooth surface by chemicals as opposed to bacteria that we think about with cavities. It is estimated that up to half of all children have dental erosion. You can see changes in tooth color from transparent to yellow and eventually cracks in the teeth. You may also become more sensitive to hot or cold beverages.
What causes dental erosion?
The most common cause is drinking acidic beverages. This includes fruit juices and soda pop (even sugar free), sports drinks as well as wine.
Gastric reflux is very common in adults and children and the acid from your stomach can also cause tooth erosion. Other conditions causing erosion are chlorine in swimming pools if your kids are year round swimmers as well as from persistent vomiting that you would see in bulimics.
What can we do about dental erosion?
Many parents give their children juice or juice drinks instead of water or milk. There is the illusion that it is healthy because it may contain real juice but the fact of the matter is these are all forms of sugar and are very acidic.
Children and adults consume too many of their calories from drinks. It is estimated that 1/3 of the daily calories are coming from drinks which causes tooth erosion as well as the epidemic of obesity. The average Americans drinks almost 60 cans of pop a year. There are 10 teaspoons of sugar in one can that amounts to 32 pounds of sugar in a year.