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Limit Acidic Beverages to Protect Your Child's Tooth Enamel from Erosion

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Tooth enamel erosion is a serious issue for many children that can result in permanent impairment of oral health. The problem isn’t just bacterial acid that causes tooth decay — it’s also the high acid content of sodas, energy and sports drinks widely popular among children and teenagers today.

Enamel is made of the strongest substance in the human body, which enables it to shield the inner layers of the teeth from disease and other environmental factors. Its chief nemesis, though, is acid: when enamel interacts with high concentrations of acid for a prolonged time, its mineral content will begin to soften and dissolve, a process known as de-mineralization. Saliva is the enamel’s main protection against acid with the ability to neutralize (or buffer) acid and restore some of the enamel’s mineral content, usually within thirty minutes to an hour after we eat.

The high acid content of many popular beverages, however, can overwhelm saliva’s buffering ability, especially if a person is sipping for an extended time on an acidic drink. This kind of exposure is different from acid produced by bacteria that causes tooth decay: bacterial acid tends to concentrate in specific areas of the teeth, while the constant wash from acidic beverages will have a more generalized eroding effect on teeth.

This level of enamel loss is irreversible, which can leave a tooth in peril of decay and ultimate loss — and increase long-term dental care and costs. The best strategy is to have your child stop or significantly curtail drinking highly acidic beverages. Rather than drink sports beverages for hydration, substitute water, nature’s hydrator. Milk can also be a viable beverage substitute.

If you do allow some acidic beverages, try to limit them to mealtimes and discourage extended sipping. Look for drinks with added calcium as this can reduce the beverage’s erosive potential. The goal is to reduce the amount and duration beverage acid is in contact with tooth enamel.

Making these changes will help greatly to protect your child’s tooth enamel, and give saliva a chance to do its job protecting it. Your efforts will also increase your child’s chances of better dental health in the future.

If you would like more information on dental erosion, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Erosion.”

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    Dr Shukla and staff are very friendly and personable. I’ve had several tooth emergencies and Dr Shukla and staff have helped me out even on their off days. Dr Shukla is very focused on patient satisfaction. I would definitely recommend Great Smiles to anyone in need of a dentist."
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    I have gone to this practice for years and have come to know the staff well. They are all great! Dr. Shukla provides excellent examinations and kind, careful treatment. Donna is a wonderful hygienist; not only does she do expert teeth cleaning, but she answers all questions thoroughly. She clearly takes pride in her profession and is up to date on current standards of care. I highly recommend 'Great Smiles.'"
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    Our family has been going to this office for at least 25 years. The staff there are more than wonderful. When Dr. Swingle retired we were hoping the new dentist would be good so we could continue our relationships there. Well, we are delighted with Dr. Shukla’s care! Always thorough, gentle, very competent and just personally lovely. Office immaculately clean too. Some nice added amenities like beverages and TVs which frankly are pleasant but not necessary when the professional services (from cleanings to crowns) are first rate!"
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    Another good visit to Dr Shukla at Great Smiles. Always a pleasure checking in to the office and the waiting room is now equipped with cold drinks and Nespresso coffee maker, although I actually didn't have to wait. Came in for teeth cleaning with Donna, followed by a dental exam. Dr Shukla is thorough, gentle and caring, clearly taking a long-term view toward maintaining heathy teeth and gums. Many thanks, see you in six months!"
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