ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Cane Use May Cut Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
CANCER
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Late-Life Fatherhood May Lower Child's Intelligence
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Caregiving May Lengthen Life
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
DIABETES
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Is It Safe to Go in the Gulf Coast's Water?
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
Golf Course Insecticides Pose Little Danger to Players
EYE CARE, VISION
Poor Night Vision May Predict Age-Related Eye Disease
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
FITNESS
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
Bursts of Vigorous Activity Appear to Be a 'Stress-Buffer'
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Biomarkers May Help Measure Rate of Decline in Dementia
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
MENTAL HEALTH
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Brain Scans Show How Humans 'Hear' Emotion
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
SENIORS
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Seniors Cope With Sleep Loss Better Than Young Adults
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
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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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