What if I told you that some of the foods and drinks we consume are only a few points above battery acid on a pH scale?
While that is a shocking thought, it is none-the-less true. It turns out that sugar isn’t the only enemy of our teeth! Foods and drinks that are high in acid, wear away the enamel that protects our teeth. This process is called tooth erosion. This changes the way our teeth look and it makes them prime candidates for decay.
As the enamel is eroded away by exposure to dietary acids, the dentin is exposed, causing the teeth to appear more yellow, as well as, causing tooth sensitivity. As the protective layer of enamel is thinned on the teeth, they become more prone to cavities as well.
Amazingly, our bodies have a protective mechanism built into our saliva. The tooth enamel can actually repair itself using the minerals found in our saliva. Unfortunately, an onslaught of acidic food and drinks quickly overwhelms our body’s ability to counter this damage. Using a re-mineralizing toothpaste can be helpful. But our best defense is to limit our exposure to the problem in the first place.
Take Precautions for the Health of Your Teeth
As a precaution, limit any acidic sodas and juices to mealtime, rather than sipping them between meals. After a meal rinse your mouth out with water to help remove some of the acid in your mouth. However, do not brush your teeth immediately if you have consumed a high acid beverage or food. Your enamel will be weakened and brushing right afterwards could cause more damage. It’s best to wait about a half an hour before brushing.
So, with this in mind, let’s consider the pH of some common foods and drinks. Battery acid has a pH of 1.0, in comparison, water has a pH of 7.0. Lemon juice has a pH of 2.0, vinegar is 2.2, and cola drinks fall in at 2.3. Jumping up the scale, orange juice is 3.6 and beer and wine fall around 4.0.
Another hidden danger is found in candy. We all know that candy is full of sugar and it is bad for our teeth. But many candies are also very acidic, making them a double threat. Sucking and chewing sour candies has become a popular habit, especially among children, teens and young adults. The acid found in sour candies is often less than a point above battery acid. Many “non sour” candies are nearly as bad on the pH scale, so caution should be used when eating these types of treats.
Damage to our tooth enamel begins at a pH level of 4. Most of the juices and sodas, as well as some fruits and almost all candy, falls under a pH level of 4. It is best to limit our consumption of these foods and drinks, to restrict them to meal times and to take actions to remove their acids from our mouths as much as possible. These preventative measures are especially important for children. Being aware of a problem is half the battle. We can be aware of the types of foods we consume and what affects it will have on our teeth, knowing how to minimize any damage will go a long way to keeping our teeth healthy and cavity free.