Acidic Erosion from Common Food and Drinks

What is Acidic Erosion?

When the enamel, or protective surface of your teeth, wears away from acid exposure and erodes the enamel, it exposes the underlying material, called dentin. This leaves your tooth vulnerable to plaque and bacteria, which cause decay.

Causes of Acidic Erosion:

The most common cause of erosion is by acidic foods and drinks. In general, foods and drinks with a PH below 5.0–5.7 have been known to trigger dental erosion effects.

  1. Intrinsic – acid reflux, bulimia, GERD and frequent vomiting
  2. Extrinsic – frequent consumption of foods and beverages with high acidic content. Check out the acidity levels of common items here!

Symptoms of Acidic Erosion:

Erosion usually shows up as hollows in the teeth and a general wearing away of the tooth surface and biting edges. This can expose the dentine underneath, which is a darker, yellower color than the enamel. Because the dentine is sensitive, your teeth can also be more sensitive to heat and cold, or acidic foods and drinks.

Treatment for Acidic Erosion:

 

  • Keep the acidity level of your mouth as close to neutral as possible by minimizing length and frequency of exposure with any acidic drinks and foods. Consider drinking these types of drinks with a meal to reduce exposure.
  • Use a straw when drinking to minimize acid contact with tooth surfaces and don’t swish your drink in your mouth.
  • Select beverages containing calcium, phosphate or fluoride, and rinse with water or drink milk after acid exposure in order to lessen erosive attacks.
  • Use dentifrices with a high fluoride concentration to strengthen enamel surfaces and low abrasiveness levels: MI paste, Prevident toothpaste, Sensodyne Pronamel toothpastes.
  • Avoid tooth brushing immediately after acid exposure; wait at least 30 minutes to allow the tooth surface recovery from acid attacks.
  • Chew sugarless gum
  • Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with fluoride toothpaste. Use a small-headed brush with medium to soft bristles.

If you think you may suffer from acid reflux, bulimia or GERD, see your primary care physician for diagnosis and treatment options.

Demineralization, or loss of tooth enamel, begins at around an acidity level of 5.5 pH. Battery acid (1.0 pH) and water (neutral 7.0 pH) are included in this list for comparison.

Click here for more information on the affect of high acidity from sports and energy drinks on your teeth.