Here’s why acid levels in your diet are crucial to dental health.

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“Tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in the body,” says Dr. Janet Tamo, DDS, of [email protected]. “It’s even harder than bone. It’s the outer layer of the top of the tooth, known as the crown, that allows us to chew, speak and do everything else we have to do with our teeth, making it an essential component of a beautiful and healthy smile.”

“Enamel is a mineral, which means that when it comes in contact with acid, demineralization of the tooth occurs,” says Dr. Tamo. That means erosion occurs when we eat or drink acidic foods and beverages (read citrus fruits, wine and juices) but also when we consume easily fermentable carbohydrates.

“Easily fermentable carbohydrates are foods with simple sugars present in them, such as granola bars, candy and cookies, that ferment into acid because of one of the 500 species of naturally occurring bacteria in our mouth,” says Dr. Tamo. Without a balanced diet and diligent oral care routine, our tooth enamel begins to erode over time.

What Can You Do To Protect Your Enamel?

  1. Reach for healthier foods that are low in simple sugars.
  2. Be mindful of foods that are high in acid by pairing them with low-acid foods, such as wine and cheese.
  3. If you don’t have time to pair your foods, simply swish your mouth with clean tap water after you consume something acidic to neutralize the pH levels.
  4. Finally, protect your enamel and seek out a toothpaste with stannous fluoride instead of sodium fluoride, such as Crest Pro-Health HD Toothpaste ($13.96, drugstores), which provides a protective layer that prevents erosion, remineralizes the tooth to prevent damage and acts as an antibacterial agent to help fight gum disease.