Are sour foods and drinks harmful to teeth?

If you often crave for this type of food and drinks, it can start the processes of tooth erosion. The tooth enamel begins to decompose under the influence of acids. In the food and beverages you can find a variety of acids. An important factor is the number of times per a day such food is eaten. If food contains acid, you can check in the ingredients table on the back of the packaging. Even fruits and vegetables may contain acid. Teeth are made in a way that they can withstand a variety of oral pH. Teeth  are remineralised with saliva, which protects teeth. Despite consuming acidic food and drink, we can maintain healthy teeth. Like everywhere, even in the diet, there are some limits, which should be taken into consideration, so that we do not start the detriment of our own teeth. There is no need to absolutely avoid acidic food. You should just take into account that it is not consumed to often during a day.

How to identify sour foods and drinks?

Among the ingredients can be found the following acids, that can be harmful:
  1. Acetic acid. This is the main component of vinegar. It is found in ketchup and barbecue sauce, and has pH of 3.9.
  2. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Vitamin C is healthy, but if you eat it too often, it can dissolve your teeth.
  3. Citric acid. This acid gives the sour taste of citrus fruit.
  4. Fumaric acid. Often it is found in beverages and for thickening puddings.
  5. Succinic acid. It is produced by fermentation of sugar. It is found in beer and wine, but it can be added to some foods.
  6. Lactic acid. It located in acidified milk products such as yogurt.
  7. Malic acid. This acid gives green apples, grapes and some candies sour flavor.
  8. Phosphoric acid. It is found in carbonated drinks.
  9. Tartaric acid. It is located in the fruits, such as bananas, grapes, wine and some other foods.
  10. Concentrated fruit juice. When fruit juice is concentrated, the water is taken away, that is why an increased amount of acid is generated, which can be harmful to the teeth. These juices may contain citric and malic acids. They can be added to different foods.

What kind of drinks are harmful to teeth?

  Despite the fact that the teeth are the hardest part of the body, they have some weaknesses. Acid can easily destroy them, because they are made of minerals. Bellow are listed some drinks that are acidic.
  1. Sports drinks. They are good for rehydration, but their acidic nature can be harmful to the teeth with their excessive use. Some have even lower pH of 3, which means that they can be very acidic.
  2. Fruit juices. Natural fruit juices are otherwise healthy, but their pH is around 3, depending on the type of fruit.
  3. Carbonated drinks (Coca Cola, Sprite, etc.). These juices also have a pH of about 3. Coca Cola, for example, has a pH = 2.5, which is very low.
  4. Vegetable juices. These juices have a pH of about 4. Tomato juice has the most erosive effect.
  5. Beverages with fruit flavor. These drinks contain artificial fruit aromas. To get a good taste, they have added citric acid.
  6. Iced teas. Conventional home teas have a pH of about 7.2, while premade iced teas from stores have pH around 3.
  7. Wine and beer. Wines may contain quite a lot of acid and have a pH of about 3. Sweeter wines have more acid, as manufacturers try to control sweetness. pH of beers may vary from 3.7 to 4.1.
  8. Flavored waters. Flavored water may seem like a good choice, because they are not just a plain water and they have some flavor and few calories. However, some flavored waters can have a pH of about 3, which is quite low.
  9. Buttermilk. pH of buttermilk can be about 4.41 to 4.83, depending on the manufacturer.
There are also some drinks which are not acidic. Coffee is still weakly acidic, because it has a pH = 5.5, and is located just above the critical pH, which means that the teeth do not decompose. Some coffee can be closer to the pH of 5.0, while others have a pH 6, which is dependent on from where the coffee is coming. Milk has pH of 6.8 and soy milk has a pH of 7.0. The water has a neutral pH of 7.

What determines whether the acid will damage teeth?

  1. Contact time of sour foods and drinks with teeth. Teeth that are soaked in an acidic environment for a long time, can be more damaged. Sooner we swallow sour food or drink better it is for our teeth.
  2. The pH of food and beverages. More low is pH of food or drink, more damage can be caused to teeth.
  3. The ability to neutralize acid. Saliva, which has neutral pH, can neutralize acids that come into the oral cavity. More acidic food or drink is, more slowly are neutralized by saliva.
  4. The amount of calcium, phosphate and fluoride ion. If sour drinks or foods are containing any of the aforementioned ions, they are causing less damage to the teeth.

What are the effects of acid on the teeth?

Acids in food or drink can cause tooth erosion, if consumed too often. When enamel erodes off, softer and less resistant dentine is exposed into oral cavity. And if not cleaned well, cavities can start to form.

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