Ask a Dentist

May 14, 2020

Q: How can I teach my kids about tooth erosion?

Photo of a transparent egg on a white background

Tooth erosion is the loss of tooth enamel, caused by wear and tear or acid. When you lose tooth enamel, your teeth lose a protective layer. Acidic foods, which include fruits such as oranges, strawberries and grapes, can slowly wear away at tooth enamel. The acid softens your enamel on contact and the enamel remains soft for a short time. Avoid brushing your teeth for 30 minutes after you eat acidic foods as the mechanical action of brushing can actually wear away your enamel. To help mitigate the effects of acidic foods and drinks, make sure to drink plain water after eating to wash away some of the acid. Other foods can help counteract the acid in the mouth too - such as dairy products, including milk, yogurt and cheese.

To teach your kids about the effects of tooth erosion, specifically from acid, try this experiment using vinegar and eggs:

What you’ll need

  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 1 or 2 Eggs
  • Jar or bowl

What to do

  • Pour vinegar into the jar
  • Place the egg into the jar slowly, so that it doesn’t crack
  • Leave it on the counter for a day
  • Carefully take out the egg and rinse with water

What happens

When you put the egg in the jar, you’ll see bubbles rising up from the egg. This is the acid in the vinegar combining with the calcium carbonate in the eggshell. The next day, you’ll see that the egg has lost its shell, it’s no longer hard and can actually bounce! Just don’t bounce it too hard, the egg yolk and egg white is still there, now it’s just being held together by the thin membrane found underneath eggshells.

The eggshell is like your tooth enamel. With enough acid, the tooth enamel can wear away and expose the layer underneath.

If you’re worried about your or your family’s tooth enamel, book an appointment today at either of our Winnipeg dental clinics - we’d be happy to take a look to see what’s happening in your mouth.