Although teeth are the hardest parts of our bodies, they do have one weakness: they can be easily destroyed by acid. Plaque thrives on carbohydrates, sugar and acid and this combination, found in many of the drinks we consume, is what can ruin our teeth.
The acidity of substances is measured using the pH scale.
The lower the pH a drink has; the more acidic it is. Many well known drinks have a low pH, which means that they contain a lot of acid.
Our saliva normally has a pH of around 6.5, which is a healthy pH for teeth. When the pH of our mouth gets to 5.5 or below, the enamel on our teeth starts to dissolve. What this means is that when you drink something that has a pH lower than 5.5, it starts to eat away at your teeth. Of course, you can drink these drinks and still have healthy teeth, there are a lot of other factors involved……
These are the Nine Drinks that Can Dissolve Your Teeth!
- Sports Drinks
Even though sports drinks are great for re-hydration, their acidic nature can cause them to be harmful to your teeth. Even the leading brand names have a pH of less than 3!
- Fruit Juice
Fruit juice is good for you, but if you have the option, it’s always best to eat whole fruits as they are better for your teeth. They also contain fibre to help your digestive system:
- Orange juice has a pH of 3.5
- Apple juice has a pH of 3.2
- Pineapple juice has a pH of 3.4
- Grapefruit juice has a pH of 3.1
- Cranberry juice has a pH of 2.6
- White Grape Juice has a pH of 2.8
- Lemon juice has a pH of 2.0
Whichever brand you prefer; this carbonated drink has extremely low pH levels. Any carbonated drink will have a low pH because the carbon dioxide combines with water to create carbonic acid. The brand leaders have a pH of only 2.5!
- Vegetable Juice
Even healthy vegetable juice has a low pH. Vegetable juice usually has a pH of around 4.1. It is tomato juice that is the main cause of the acidity.
- Fruit Flavoured Drinks – A lot of fruit flavoured drinks contain artificial flavours. In order to provide a fruity taste, many manufacturers add citric acid and other acids to their drinks. Most well-known brands have a pH of between 2.4 and 2.8.
- Iced Tea
While normal brewed tea has a pH of 7.2, it’s commercial ‘iced’ versions brings a lot of acid into your mouth and contains pH levels of between 2.8 and 3.5.
- Flavoured Water
People sometimes think this seems like a better choice than water as it tastes better, has no calories, and comes in a variety of flavours. However, some flavoured water has a very low pH of 3.2 which means it is able to dissolve tooth structure.
- Wine and Beer
Many wines are quite acidic. Chardonnay has a pH of 3.4. In general, sweeter wines will have more acid added by the winemaker to balance out the sweetness. The pH of beer can range from 3.7 to 4.1.
- Sparkling Water
Even sparkling water has a pH of around 3. .
In fact flavoured sparkling water has as much or more of an erosive effect on teeth than orange juice, which is known to be very erosive to the teeth. Flavoured sparkling waters should be considered as potentially erosive, and preventive advice on their consumption recognises them as potentially acidic drinks rather than water with flavouring.
What Drinks Don’t Dissolve Teeth?
There are a few drinks that aren’t acidic. Coffee, although still slightly acidic, only has a pH of 5.5 so it is just above the threshold where teeth start to dissolve. Of course some coffee beans do approach closer to 5.0 and some are over 6, depending on where they are grown. Milk has a pH of 6.8, while soya milk has a pH of 7. Of course, water has a neutral pH of 7.
Why Haven’t My Teeth Dissolved Yet?
As mentioned above, you can drink all of these drinks and still have healthy teeth. The degree of erosion depends on three key factors:
- How often you drink these drinks
- The level of pH – The lower the pH, the faster tooth erosion occurs
- How long the drink stays in contact with your teeth
How to Reduce Tooth Erosion
A few tips you can use to reduce tooth erosion:
- Don’t sip acidic drinks. If you are going to drink an acidic drink, do it as quickly as possible to minimise the contact time with your teeth.
- Drink acidic drinks through a straw. By using a straw, you are pushing the drinks directly to the back of your mouth and avoiding some of the contact that the acid has with your teeth.
- Rinse your mouth out after drinking acidic drinks to help flush away some of the acid. Drinking water or milk can help.
- Don’t brush your teeth right after drinking acidic drinks. The acid in them can eat away some of the mineral content of your teeth, leaving behind a soft matrix. The calcium in your saliva can eventually replace the lost tooth structure. However, if you brush right after drinking acidic drinks, you could brush away that enamel matrix, making it impossible for your saliva to repair the damage done by the acidic drink.
Just keep in mind that you don’t need to completely avoid the drinks mentioned above.
Moderation is the key!