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Causes of Acid Erosion - Acidic Foods and Drinks

Enamel is the hard, protective outer coating of your teeth, so keeping it healthy is the key to healthy teeth.i However, enamel can be worn away by food and drink that is highly acidic.ii So, how do you fight tooth and nail to protect your enamel? Learning which foods and drinks can damage enamel, and what you can do to help prevent tooth erosion, will help keep your smile strong and healthy.

Find out more about the causes of acid erosion below.

Foods and Drinks That Cause Acid Erosion

We all know sugary food and drinks can damage our smile, but we tend not to think that the acids that some foods contain can potentially cause our tooth enamel to wear away.ii, iii

Having an acid-rich diet can put your tooth enamel at risk of acid erosion. Surprisingly, even some of our healthier choices – such as certain fruit juices, like lemon or apple juice – in addition to sports drinks and soda are highly acidic.ii

This acid erodes tooth enamel and over time can expose the dentin, the inner layer of your tooth. This can lead to problems such as tooth sensitivity and cosmetic issues.v

Find out if everyday acids are affecting your tooth enamel.

High Acid Food and Drink

What makes a food or drink more acidic or alkaline (non-acidic) is its pH level. This is measured by a pH scale that ranges from 0 to 14. The lower the pH number, the higher the acidity. Anything with a pH value lower than 5.5 is acidic and therefore may cause tooth erosion.v

The whole idea that some acidic foods and drinks can dissolve your tooth enamel may sound alarming – and your first instinct might be to avoid acidic foods and beverages like sodas and sports drinks.ii

However, a wide variety of vitamin- and mineral-rich foods is essential for a healthy, balanced diet. The trick is not to completely stop eating acidic foods and drinks, but instead to balance and neutralize their acidity to limit the damage they can do. However, sports drinks and sodas are some of the main culprits when it comes to acid erosionii – so it's best to keep these as an occasional treat rather than a regular habit.

Learn how to protect your kids’ teeth from enamel erosion.

Acid-Combating Food and Drink

Foods naturally low in acidity include dairy products such as cheese, plain yogurt and milk.vi Calcium rich foods (particularly dairy products) can help to protect your enamel by neutralizing the acids in your saliva caused by highly acidic food and drinks. You can minimize the effects of more acidic foods by combining them with calcium-rich ones. For example, after an acidic meal or beverage, enjoy a quick dairy-rich snack such as cheese or yogurt.ii Alternatively, have a drink of water to rinse your mouth.ii Reducing the acidity in your diet in this way can help to protect your teeth from potential daily acid damage and enamel erosion.

See our helpful chart below to learn about the acid levels of some common food and drinks.

Acidic Foods and Drinks: At a Glance

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Tips For Protecting Your Teethii

  • Gently brush your teeth after eating acidic foods, but wait an hour before you do to give your saliva a chance to naturally swill away acids.
  • Use a fluoride-based, enamel-strengthening toothpaste such as Pronamel Intensive Enamel Repair to help protect against acid erosion and re-mineralize acid-weakened enamel to rebuild enamel strength.
  • Rinse your mouth with water – ideally fortified with fluoride – or drink milk after eating or drinking highly acidic foods or drinks.
  • Chew sugar-free gum to help encourage saliva production and keep acid production in check. Choose ones with the American Dental Association seal.
  • Use a straw to drink acidic beverages to help stop the liquid coming into direct contact with your teeth and limit the amount of time they stay in your mouth. However, avoid these drinks entirely as much as possible.
  • Learn about the science behind enamel repair.

 

Taking Care of Your Tooth Enamel

Balancing your intake of high-acid foods and drinks and investing in an enamel-strenghtening toothpaste such as those in the Pronamel range should form part of your oral care routine. This, along with regular checkups at the dentist, can help prevent acid erosion from getting any worse.ii

Find out where to buy Pronamel.

SOURCES

By clicking any of the links below you will be taken to an external website that is independently operated and not managed by GSK. GSK assumes no responsibility for the content on the website. If you do not wish to leave this website, do not click on the links below.

i. Tooth. Mouth Healthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/tooth. Accessed 27/03/20.

ii. Dietary acids and your teeth. Mouth Healthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/e/dietary-acids-and-your-teeth. Accessed 17/01/20.

iii. Diet and dental health. Mouth Healthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/diet-and-dental-health. Accessed 17/01/20.

iv. Demineralization–remineralization dynamics in teeth and bone. International Journal of Nanomedicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5034904/. Accessed 17/01/20.

v. Diet and my teeth. Oral Health Foundation. https://www.dentalhealth.org/diet-and-my-teeth. Accessed 20/01/20.

vi. The Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth. University of Rochester Medical Center. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=4062. Accessed 20/01/20.

Jar of Yogurt With Fruit

Foods that Fight Acid Erosion

Incorporating these foods into your diet can help protect your teeth from the effects of acid erosion.

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5 Ways to Keep Your Tooth Enamel Strong

Learn some simple steps you can take to start protecting your tooth enamel from acid erosion.

Woman Pouring Milk

How to Prevent Acid Erosion

See how you can start protecting your enamel from acid erosion with these simple steps.