Most people are aware that their teeth can be damaged by exposure to acidic foods, but not everyone understands how this happens or how to prevent it. Here’s what you need to know about acid and your teeth so you can keep your smile as healthy as possible.
Why Does Acid Cause Cavities?
Long-term exposure to acidic foods can cause demineralisation, in which tooth enamel (which is made of hydroxyapatite) gets worn away. The more often your teeth are exposed to acids, like those found in soft drinks, juice, sports drinks and fruit juices, the higher your risk for cavities. The acidity of a food or drink indicates how much free-floating hydrogen ions it contains. But don’t be fooled by appearances: Smoothies may have a delicious fruity appearance but they’re still loaded with sugar—which can also promote cavities when eaten too frequently.
What Foods Are The Most Commonly Associated With Acidity?
Acidic foods are those with a pH lower than 7.0, which is a neutral position on the pH scale. Citrus fruits, coffee, tomato juice, wine and vinegar are all examples of acidic foods. For many years people have associated acidic foods with causing dental problems because acid can damage tooth enamel —the outermost layer of your teeth—resulting in tooth decay (also known as cavities). When you eat an acidic food or drink an acidic beverage (like soda) over time, it can result in erosion of your tooth enamel.
A closer look at Low pH Level
Although there are other factors that determine a tooth’s health, such as genetics, diet and dental hygiene, low pH levels can cause a number of serious oral problems. First, let’s review what pH means. Simply put, it refers to how acidic or alkaline something is on a scale of 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very alkaline). This number is calculated by comparing how much hydrogen is present in one liter of liquid or solid. Anything above 7 is considered neutral; numbers under 7 are more acidic while higher num
bers are more alkaline. Most experts agree that human saliva has a range between 6.5 and 7.5; anything below 6 can cause damage to your teeth while anything over 8 may begin eroding enamel as well.
Cariogenic bacteria — which literally means to devour sugar — grow in a process called plaque formation. It’s composed of acid, food particles and saliva. Plaque gets stuck on your teeth, where it decays into acid that attacks tooth enamel, causing tooth decay or dental erosion. And high-glycemic foods such as sugars can increase acidity levels in your mouth twice as much as low-glycemic foods such as non-starchy vegetables. The most important way to prevent plaque buildup is through consistent brushing with fluoride toothpaste (at least twice a day) and flossing once daily.
Prevention is better than cure. To prevent your teeth from darkening, avoid drinking acidic beverages like soda or coffee. And if you already have dark stains on your teeth, consult a dentist. There are several methods of removing those unsightly dark spots so you can smile with confidence again.
The word acid can conjure up images of an extreme taste, such as that of vinegar or sour milk. But when it comes to your teeth, acidity has little to do with taste; it has everything to do with damage. In fact, too much acidity can slowly erode away at your tooth enamel, leading to sensitivity. The mineral content in your saliva helps neutralise acids in your mouth, but some food and beverages contain a higher level of acid than others.
What Drinks Should I Have To Help Prevent Acid On Teeth?
- Dairy milk (Oat and / or soy milk )
- Juice: fresh orange juice is fine, but be careful of some of those fruit-flavoured drinks that can have lots of added sugar.
- If you must have a regular soda, drink it quickly so that as little comes into contact with your teeth as possible.
Is a general dental health check due? Contact Evergreen Dentist in Chatswood and make an appointment.