beverages and oral health

Beverage and Oral Health Series: Does Your Beverage Pass the ‘Acid Test’?

You probably don’t think much about the acid content in the beverages you consume on a daily basis; however, you might want to start.  Do you realize how many of our daily beverages and foods contain acid?  Many are natural, healthy foods; however, over time, when sipped on regularly, can increase your risk for tooth erosion.

What drinks/foods are acidic?

  • Alcohol
  • Fruit juices
  • Wine
  • Citric fruits
  • Vinegar and pickled products
  • Fruit teas
  • Flavored water
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Diet drinks
  • Sweetened drinks

Chances are, you see a few of your favorites on this list.  Even something as innocuous as fruit tea can cause harm to your teeth if consumed repeatedly and without proper oral health care.  Researchers found people who had drinks such as water with a slice of lemon or hot fruit-flavored teas twice a day between meals were at least 11 times more likely to have moderate or severe tooth erosion.  But this figure was halved when the drinks were taken with meals.[1]

Why does Acid Cause Tooth Erosion?

Calcium is a key ingredient in building strong teeth. Unfortunately, exposing your teeth to acid can leach calcium from your enamel, causing this protective surface to break down.  When the enamel wears away, it exposes the underlying material, called dentin. This leaves your tooth vulnerable to plaque and bacteria, which cause decay.[2]

Can You Reduce Damage Due to Acidic Foods or Drinks?

Dr. Saoirse O’Toole, the lead study author, from King’s College London Dental Institute, said: “If you drink things for long periods of time, greater than five minutes, or if you play with things in your mouth or if you nibble on fruit over a few minutes rather than eating them as a whole fruit – these are things that can really damage your teeth.”

“If you’re going to have an apple as a snack at lunchtime, then try not to have anything acidic later on in the evening. If you are going to have a glass of wine in the evening, then don’t have your fruit tea in the morning. Just balance things in your diet.”[3]

6 Simple Hacks to Protect Your Teeth from Acid

  • Have your beverage with a meal to reduce damage–chewing your food increases saliva, which dilutes acidic foods.
  • Don’t sip on beverages over long periods of time.
  • Consider using a straw to avoid the acidic drink from making contact with your teeth.
  • Swap out carbonated drinks with non-acidic beverages like water, milk and coffee.
  • Consume a piece of cheese after you drink an acidic drink
  • Wait before brushing–acid softens your enamel, so brushing immediately after eating or drinking high-acid foods or drinks can actually cause damage. Wait at least half an hour and then start brushing.









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