Acid in your mouth? Sounds scary! When we talk about acid, we aren’t talking about the type of acid you’d find in, say, a mad scientist’s lab or in James Bond’s deadly acid fountain pen. Citric acid, lactic acid, and stomach acid are the most common culprits in the erosion of your tooth enamel. The most common sources of these acids, then, are your diet and your own stomach. Hydrochloric acid they aren’t, but these acids are nonetheless capable of affecting the appearance, health, and structure of your teeth. How can acid lead to the need for tooth repairs in Park Ridge, IL, and which foods contain the highest acidity? Dr. Loukas weighs in.
Common Types and Sources of Acid
In patients who have acid reflux or symptoms of GERD, a small amount of stomach acid travels upward into the throat and mouth. Acid damage is also common in the mouths of patients who have been diagnosed with bulimia, as well as among those who have a medical condition that causes frequent vomiting.
Citric acid is found naturally in citrus fruits and juices, including lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits. This type of acid, along with phosphoric acid, is found in abundance in carbonated beverages. Other sources of citric acid include berries, tomatoes, and pineapples. Citric acid is also used as a stabilizer in fruit jams, dairy products, and meats.
Lactic acid is a by-product of our body’s conversion of carbohydrates into energy, a process that begins almost immediately after introducing the food to your mouth. Foods and beverages linked to lactic acid include dairy products, wine, pickled vegetables, and even sourdough bread.
Early Consequences of Acid Exposure to Your Teeth
Some effects of acid on your teeth are subtle and difficult to detect in early stages of erosion. These telltale signs include sensitivity to heat and cold, and occasionally a sensitivity to very sweet foods and liquids. You may also notice that your teeth appear slightly yellow, which occurs when the layer of yellow-ish dentin beneath the tooth enamel is gradually exposed. This is dangerous, says Dr. Loukas, because many patients assume that this discoloration reflects poorly on their brushing habits. They then brush their teeth more aggressively, which only speeds up the erosion of enamel. Your teeth may also take on a more rounded appearance as the enamel wears increasingly thin.
Dangers of Advanced Acid Erosion
Failure to identify and seek treatment for the aforementioned symptoms could ultimately cost you your teeth, requiring teeth replacement in the form of dental implants, a dental bridge, or even removable dentures. Sensitivity and discoloration become more severe, and the edges of your teeth may develop cracks or a ragged appearance. If you have fillings, they may appear to “rise up” from the tooth as the surrounding enamel wears away. Look closely at the chewing surfaces of your teeth, and you may notice small pits and dents.
Do your teeth show signs of acid erosion? To learn more about restorative dentistry in Park Ridge, IL, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Thanasi and Maria Loukas, contact us at 847-696-1919. We welcome patients living in and around Park Ridge, Chicago, and the 60068 zip code.