Tooth Enamel Erosion and pH Levels

Mar 7th, 2012 | By | Category: More dental news, Preventive Dentistry

EnamelYou may easily understand how carbonated drinks are highly acidic and harmful to your teeth, but what about foods that are considered healthy? The truth is, some vitamin-rich foods are nutritious for your body but not so great for your teeth. How do you know which substances to limit or avoid to save your tooth enamel? The trick is determining their pH levels. These are the facts about how the pH levels of your favorite foods and drinks affect your oral health.

What are pH levels?

In chemistry, pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a substance is. The lower the pH level a food has, the higher its acidity. Pure water has a pH level of 7. Anything below a 7 is acidic and anything above it is alkaline. To give you some perspective, battery acid has a pH level of 1.0, and most carbonated sodas have a pH level of around 2.8. Apples and oranges have a pH of around 3.

How do pH levels affect my teeth?

Acidic substances dissolve the tooth enamel in a process called demineralization. Certain minerals, such as calcium and fluoride, remineralize the teeth, which means they reverse the effects of demineralization. However, if you expose your teeth to acidic substances frequently or over extended periods of time, no amount of calcium or fluoride can keep up with the demineralization process, and your enamel will wear away, causing tooth sensitivity and making your teeth more vulnerable to decay.

What can I do to prevent acid erosion?

Take the following steps to prevent tooth enamel erosion:

  • Avoid or limit low pH foods and drinks, such as sodas, wine, citrus fruits, fruit juices, jellies, and vinegar.
  • If you do eat acidic foods, consume them with a meal. During a large meal you produce more saliva, which has a protective effect on the tooth enamel.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes after consuming a low-pH substance before brushing your teeth, as your tooth enamel is more vulnerable to erosion right after eating something acidic.
  • Eat and drink calcium-rich dairy products and use fluoride toothpaste to help remineralize your teeth.

If your teeth are showing signs of acid erosion, call Dr. Moiceanu today at (510) 758-7222 to schedule an appointment. Hilltop Family Dental serves patients from Richmond, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Vallejo, Pinole, El Cerrito, Hercules, and Benicia.

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