ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
Maggots as Good as Gel in Leg Ulcer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
CANCER
Get to Know the Pap Test
Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon, Breast Cancers
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
CAREGIVING
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
Tiniest Babies Carry Biggest Costs
Health Tip: Benefitting From Adult Day Care
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
DIET, NUTRITION
The High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) Debate
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Gas Stove Emissions Boost Asthma in Inner-City Kids
Household Chemicals May Affect Cholesterol Levels
Warmer-Than-Average Temperatures Raise Migraine Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
Gene-Transfer Proves Safe for Vision Problem
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
FITNESS
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Football Can Shrink Players
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Vitamin E Helps Treat Common Liver Disease
Study Supports Swine Flu's Pandemic Potential
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
MENTAL HEALTH
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
Reminiscing Helps Build Emotional Strength
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
SENIORS
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
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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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