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Setting Your Teeth On Edge

I don’t want to set your teeth on edge, but the origin of this saying is quite interesting. Though we use it today to mean getting on one’s nerves or upset/annoy someone very much, its original meaning was to describe the unpleasant tingling sensation on teeth caused by acidic tastes like rhubarb.


The effects of acidic foods on your teeth is the subject of much research by oral care companies. The makers of Sensodyne have put out ProNamel toothpaste and Colgate now has Enamel Health toothpaste. Both are designed to help your teeth repair mild erosion of your enamel caused by acidic foods and drinks. Common acidic foods are: soft drinks, energy drinks, wines, fruit juices, and citrus fruits. (Note: Enamel erosion can also occur due to gastric acids in the mouth from GERD or frequent vomiting.)


Some signs that your teeth might have enamel erosion are:

  • Edges of your front teeth looking transparent
  • Teeth that look darker (this may mean that the enamel has thinned or been lost and is letting the dentin underneath show through)
  • Sensitive teeth (Dentin is more sensitive to touch, temperature etc. than enamel is)

Enamel erosion affects all age groups!


If you think you have a highly acidic diet or signs of enamel erosion, you should see your dentist. Some things your dentist might want to know are:

  • What acidic foods and drinks you consume
  • How often and in what form do you eat or drink them
  • If you have any gastric reflux, vomiting, eating disorders, or other medical conditions that have a similar component.


Your dentist can examine your teeth to determine the extent of enamel erosion and identify teeth that might need dental treatment due to the effects of enamel erosion. If an underlying medical problem is a contributing factor, your dentist may need to work with your physician to control the acid. In some cases, it may be necessary to reduce or even eliminate acidic foods and drinks from your diet due to the damage they cause. A nutritionist or dietician might be helpful in dietary assessment and recommendations for reducing acid intake.


If you think you have some enamel erosion, and do not have a dentist, please call 440-960-1940 or use the contact form at www.drjrobb.com to reach Dr. Jennifer Robb’s office.


*Note: Information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.