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Tooth erosion on the rise

May 11, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Soft drinks, fruit juice, tea, and sports drinks. Dentists say they all unleash destructive acid attacks on your teeth. According to a number of recent studies, tooth erosion is on the rise, with people's teeth wearing away faster than ever.

Dentists say the acid in sweet beverages wears away the enamel, leaving teeth sensitive, cracked, and discolored.

They also say sugar in the drinks stimulates acid-producing plaque on your teeth.

Dr. Edmond R. Hewlett is a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association. He's also an associate professor of restorative dentistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry.

"When we're talking about erosion, it's clearly the acid content that's causing it," Hewlett said. "In soft drinks, especially in cola soft drinks, one of the main flavoring agents is phosphoric acid. That's the acid we use in dentistry to roughen tooth enamel before applying a bonding agent. We use it like sandpaper."

Experts say, to fight off the problem, make sure you're getting enough fluoride. They say, after drinking acidic beverages, you should also wait half an hour to brush. Otherwise, you're scrubbing at enamel already softened by the acid.

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