ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
CANCER
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
U.S. Reported 25,000 Cases of HPV-Related Cancers Annually
Smokeout '08: The Perfect Time to Quit
CAREGIVING
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
Omega-3 Fatty Acid May Help 'Preemie' Girls' Brains
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Purple Tomato Extended Lives of Cancer-Prone Mice
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Depression
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Short-Term Air Pollution Exposure May Damage DNA
Bed Bugs Bring No Disease Danger
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
FITNESS
Marathoners Go the Distance on Heart Health
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Stressed and Exhausted: An Introduction to Adrenal Fatigue
Good Sleepers More Likely to Eat Right
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Countdown to Hair Loss
MENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
Natural Therapies for Menopause
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
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Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

SATURDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- People's teeth are wearing away at a faster rate than ever, dissolving under a blistering acid attack that they've brought on themselves, dental experts say.

Dental erosion -- the loss of the protective enamel on teeth -- is reportedly on the increase in the United States. The condition occurs when enamel is worn away by acids in the mouth, leaving teeth sensitive, cracked and discolored.

"Erosion is a chemical process of tooth destruction, not to be confused with abrasion, which is a mechanical process of tooth destruction," said Dr. Melvin Pierson, a spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry and a dentist in private practice in Sicklerville, N.J.

One study, for instance, found dental erosion in about 30 percent of a group of 900 middle school students across the country. Pierson said those results, published in 2008 in the Dental Tribune, confirmed the suspicions many dentists had harbored. In a survey of dentists taken before the study, nearly half said they thought tooth erosion was on the rise.

Why is this happening? Experts blame what people are drinking and how theyre drinking it, for the most part.

Soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit juices and teas all contain high amounts of acid, said Dr. Edmond R. Hewlett, consumer adviser for the American Dental Association and 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."

The sugar in most of those drinks also plays a role. When bacterial plaque on the teeth absorbs sugar from drinks and foods, it excretes an acid that eats away at tooth enamel.

"If you are eating sugary foods, the acidity of the plaque on your teeth increases precipitously," Hewlett said.

People often make the situation worse by savoring juices and soft drinks. Holding them in the mouth to enjoy the flavor or the fizzing increases exposure to the acids and sugars in the drinks. "You cause more damage when you drink a large amount and hold it in your mouth to savor the flavor," Pierson said.

Other things contribute to dental erosion, too. Medications such as aspirin can cause erosion, as can conditions such as acid reflux disease or eating disorders associated with chronic vomiting, which expose the teeth to gastric acid.

Pierson believes that dental erosion also is increasing because people are not getting enough fluoride. Many people are eschewing fluoridated public water sources in favor of bottled water, which might not contain fluoride. And they're also substituting soft drinks and juices for water.

"Fluoride helps strengthen the enamel. Erosion is an attack on the enamel," Hewlett said. "You have something that's going to protect it and strengthen it when it's under attack." He recommends that people who aren't drinking public water use a fluoridated toothpaste and mouth rinse.

Another way to help stop erosion is to hold off on brushing your teeth for about a half-hour after drinking a soda or a glass of juice, Hewlett said. If you brush right after, you're adding insult to injury by scrubbing at enamel already softened by the acid attack

"You've removed a microscopic layer of enamel that could have been replenished by the minerals in your saliva," he explained.

Saliva, it turns out, helps protect teeth from people's bad behavior by working to return the pH balance in the mouth to normal and restore minerals leached away by food acids, Hewlett said.

"There's this constant balance in the mouth, and saliva is there as our first line of defense," he said. "If someone has a good saliva flow, it can help repair some of the damage."

People who are worried about tooth erosion should talk about it with their dentist during one of the two visits a year they should be making to the dentist's office, Pierson said.

"That's where you get education from your dentist one-on-one," he said. "They examine your mouth and can ask specific questions based on what they find to address your specific problems."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on water fluoridation.



SOURCES: Melvin Pierson, D.D.S., Sicklerville, N.J.; Dr. Edmund Hewlett, associate professor, restorative dentistry, School of Dentistry, University of California, Los Angeles; March 2008 Dental Tribune

Last Updated: May 09, 2009

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