• March 11, 2011
  • Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

This blog post was created by our receptionist, Ms Raylene Barton! Raylene has been a member of our team for just over 12 months now and has become as passionate about dental health as us, the “dentally trained” members of staff. Enjoy her informative post and please don’t forget to share it with friends whom you think may benefit from her insight!
If you are anything like me, you are concerned with your health and your appearance, so you try to eat well and train regularly! I have always taken pride in my extensive knowledge of health and fitness. I have a background in personal training and have done numerous courses in nutrition. I thought I knew far beyond the basics of healthy living! I have also done a lot of competitive sports from my early teens and I have been in peak fitness and health at various times throughout my life.  Yet, I also have a lot of acid erosion on my teeth!! 
Since starting as a receptionist with The Dentist at 70 Pitt Street I have learnt a lot about teeth. I have always suffered pain and discomfort with my super sensitive teeth but none of my dentists in the past have offered the explanation that I needed! Yes, I was told that all the orange juice and fruit I ate was contributing to the sensitivity, as was my vigorous brushing (I was like the crazy lady in the TV adverts). The sensitive teeth tooth paste has always provided the relief I needed. 
Now here is what I didn’t know… Exercise can cause erosion on your teeth through dehydration. Add an acidic sports drink and it’s a double whammy for your poor teeth!! And here is why….. Our body becomes dehydrated during exercise. Saliva, which is like a protective shower to teeth, is ‘turned off’ to conserve bodily fluids. When you consume a sports drink which is highly acidic you don’t have the saliva to neutralize the acid from the drink. So you are putting a highly acidic fluid into a dry mouth environment and this erodes the precious enamel mineral right off your teeth! The bad news is: this is irreversible! So you say “I don’t drink sports drinks – I drink water” …… 

This was something I didn’t really know. I have spent A LOT of money on water purifiers and bottled water in the past. Here are some interesting facts:

  • A pH level lower than 5.5 can dissolve the enamel on teeth     

(pH is a measure of acidity of different substances, the lower the pH, the higher the acidity, neutral pH is 7.0)

  • Sports drinks have a pH level of between 2.4 and 4.5
  • Soft drinks pH level is between 2 and 4
  • Fruit juice pH level is between 3.4 and 3.6
  • Vitamin and “smart water” pH level is 4
  • Carbonated mineral water has pH 4
  • Fiji water has the highest ph level out of the bottled waters pH 7.5
  • Tap water has pH 6.5 – 7.

So tap water is what I drink now!! Easy cheap and better for me…..Who would have thought?! Why is acid erosion dangerous for your teeth?

  • It dissolves enamel (which has high mineral content ) and exposes dentine (soft part of the tooth, full of tiny little tubes which house tiny extensions of cells living on the tooth pulp and are filled with fluid) , which in turn causes pain and sensitivity when exposed to sudden changes in temperature or pressure on tooth surface
  • You cannot reverse the damage done- once enamel is gone, it is gone forever! Did you know enamel on almost all of our permanent (adult) teeth (except wisdom teeth) is completely formed by the time we are 8 years old- and most permanent teeth erupt between the ages of 7 and 10, the last ones erupt at the age of 12!
  • Erosion causes grey coloured thin teeth- thinner enamel lets more light through into the dentine- which is thicker and darker than enamel, so teeth appear yellower near the gum, while at the biting (incsal) edge, the thin enamel lets light right through into the back of the mouth, which is dark, so the edges appear grey.
  • Teeth may chip for no apparent reason- teeth may suddenly appear more jagged and in extreme cases may chip or “disappear from the smile”.

If you look after your teeth, there is no reason why you can’t keep them for life. A good, teeth-friendly diet and regular checks at the dentist will ensure you are on the right track. A hygienist will educate you and guide you in better home care. We are all striving to balance our lives in all areas including health. Knowledge in prevention, in my opinion, will serve you best!! Thank you for reading. Raylene

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh
About The Author

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

Catherine-Anne is a New Zealand-qualified dentist. She holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Sydney University and she has a broad range of experiences from working in both the public and private sector.


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