When you think of citric acid and your teeth, what’s the first image to come to mind? Sucking on a lemon or lime wedge? Lemonade? Mountain Dew? Those are all very potent sources of citric acid, but the list also includes many staples of the modern American diet, some of them quite healthy, some of them not so much:
- Sports and energy drinks,
- Fruits and fruit juices,
- Newly popular sour beers, like gose,
- Pickled vegetables,
- Fermented foods like wine and yogurt,
- Sodas and canned iced teas,
- Vitamin C lozenges,
- Sour candies.
Although diet drinks contain citric acid as well, potent enemies of your tooth’s enamel are sugary carbonated sodas and drinks. With the sticking properties of sugar that lead to cavities and the eroding power of citric acid, colas and sodas spell double trouble. With the super-sized drinks offered by fast food restaurants and convenience stores, often at dirt cheap prices, it is not uncommon for customers to sip on these drinks all day long, day after day.
What can be done? Make water your drink of choice throughout the day. Don’t sip on a soda for hours on end. If you must have your daily soda, drink it with your meals. The food eaten along with the sweet and acidic drink will help to lessen the damaging effects. The same goes for candies. Don’t suck on candies throughout the day, especially sour candies — they are public enemy number one for your enamel.
After eating and drinking products high in citric acid, your enamel is still vulnerable, so brushing right away is not a good answer. Rather than brush your teeth immediately after consuming foods containing citric acid, swish with water or chew some sugarless gum first. Use a toothpaste or dental rinse containing fluoride to help build up your enamel and undo the effects of the citric acid and the acid created by sugar-loving bacteria.
Rather than expect your teeth to do battle with citric acid all day long, every day, give them a rest. Drink good old-fashioned water. Sit down to eat regular meals of real food, and don’t constantly snack on sugary food products. Floss and brush daily with a soft toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. And see your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. Instead of your teeth being in the crosshairs, turn the tables on the enemies of tooth enamel. Let your teeth and your healthy smile be the winners of the enamel wars!