Acidity and Teeth

Acidity and Teeth: Soda’s Effect on Tooth Enamel

By Dr. Colleen Adams

Teeth are made of hard, mineralized crystals.  Just like gem stones, they are beautiful and sparkly. 

Acids attack mineralized surfaces.  They leach out the minerals and cause the surfaces to lose their shine and become chalky and soft.  The softened layers can then flake off or be brushed away.  

Many of the foods and drinks we consume are acidic.  The sugars and starches that we consume are also metabolized in the mouth to acid.  You may notice that after you have something sweet to eat in a short period of time after eating the mouth will have a sour taste.  The sour taste is the acids that the bacteria in your mouth are making as they metabolize the sugars left on the teeth. The body has a system for balancing the removal and depositing of minerals in the surfaces of the teeth.  Saliva contains minerals to re-harden the teeth but it has only a limited capacity for this and if the acid environment is too severe or carries on for too long the teeth will weaken.  

A recent study, Oral Health January 2022, looked at the erosive potential of at-home soda machines. These machines carbonate water or juices to make them fun to drink!  Unfortunately, the dissolved carbon dioxide creates carbonic acid and these beverages become acidic.  Common machines like SodaStream, DrinkMate, CounterTop, Sparkel, Fizzpod and AARKE Carbonation.  All were found to significantly increase the acidity of the water to a point that would act to weaken tooth enamel.

Key to maintaining teeth in good health is minimizing the acid exposure especially with regard to the frequency and duration of such exposure.  The following chart by Oral Answers shows the pH at which the enamel will begin to dissolve and the time after each exposure required to come back to neutral values in the mouth.

Key strategy to keep the teeth strong and beautiful

One way of reducing the risk of cavities and erosion of the teeth is to reduce the time that the mouth is an acidic environment.  This is a very important way of controlling the risks!  We all have to eat and drink but choosing to avoid snacking on sweet or acidic foods will improve the environment for our teeth.  Also we can have the sweet or tangy(read acidic) food with our main meals and drink plain water to rinse away the problems.  Chewing sugar free gum stimulates saliva which will rinse away particles and provide the minerals for re-hardening the enamel!  There are even some foods like hard cheeses that are basic and so will neutralize acids 😊

If you have questions about food, drinks and the effect on your teeth don’t hesitate to ask us at your next appointment or give us a call for additional tips.

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