So you brush your teeth after every meal, choose herbal
tea over fizzy
drinks, and snack on fruit not sweets.
It might sound like the ideal formula
for perfect teeth, but, actually, it's not. In fact, any one of those habits could increase your risk of dental erosion
Here, we reveal some of the other surprising things that could ruin your smile:
Fruit-flavoured tea can be three times more damaging than orange juice, a study found. Many fruit teas are acidic
and eat away at tooth enamel
, with lemon and blackcurrant
among the most damaging.
REDUCE THE RISK: Stick to black or green tea. Compounds in black tea can attack the bacteria that form plaque
and prevent the plaque from sticking to teeth, U.S. researchers found.
More recently, a study at the University of Tohoku in Japan found that drinking one or more cups of green tea a day reduces the risk of cavities. It is thought antioxidants
, called catechins
, in the tea stop bacteria in the mouth from producing acid.
Even if you're snacking on healthy fruit, seeds and nuts, it's eating little and often that can do your teeth harm.
"A tooth can withstand five acid attacks a day," says one researcher. "Saliva
takes about an hour to neutralise
the acid created by a food or drink. So if you have a can of fizzy drink and sip it all day long, then the acid in your mouth will be under constant attack."
REDUCE THE RISK: Stick to three meals a day and avoid snacking. If you must snack, eat it all at once, rather than picking at it, so that the saliva can quickly neutralise the acid generated in the mouth. After food, rinse
your mouth out with water or chew sugar-free gum to encourage saliva, which neutralises the acid.
Saliva acts as a barrier, protecting the teeth by neutralising acidic foods such as oranges, and the acid produced by bacteria as they break down foods.
REDUCE THE RISK: "There are gums, lozenge
s and gels available over the counter specifically for dry mouth that help encourage the production of saliva," says Karen. "You could also suck sugar-free sweets for the same effect."
A study of 500 swimmers found 66 per cent of them had damaged teeth as a result of chlorine
"Chlorine affects the pH of the water and makes it acidic, so swallowing it can lead to tooth erosion," says a researcher.
"This can result in yellowing teeth – because the acid strips the enamel and starts to reveal darker-coloured dentine
underneath. It is not a common problem, but may be an issue for regular swimmers who spend a long time in the pool each day."
REDUCE THE RISK: Try to keep your mouth closed while swimming. Don't brush your teeth straight after your dip because at this time the surface of the teeth could be softened by the acidic chlorine and could be more easily brushed away.