How Does Acid Play Havoc With Your Teeth?

Acid seems to have been a buzz word in the health industry in the last few years.  Everyone seems to be wanting to change their body pH from Acid (sugary foods, stress, etc) to a more Alkaline pH because this is supposed to be a better and more healthy pH to live with.

Lemon in Water for a healthy start to your day………….?

But aren’t these supposedly healthy habits also good for our teeth?

Not necessariyly. The habits that are recommended for the supposed change in body pH can be harmful to other parts of your body.  Your teeth for example.  It is suggested that one should drink water with lemon juice in it or apple cider vinegar on a daily basis.  These are both quite acidic when they enter your mouth.  What are we doing to our teeth by doing this?

So What does Acid do to our Teeth?

Your mouth has a buffering system in your saliva to try to keep your mouth pH at its optimum.  However, if you eat any carbohydrate-rich food it will push your pH into the acidic level in your mouth.  It takes your saliva up to 4 hours to get the pH back to a normal, more alkaline pH after you’ve eaten.  And your teeth are then bathed in acid for quite a long time.  Acid will soften the protective enamel layer on your teeth making it more susceptible to decay and to erosion.  Once your enamel is affected, it can no longer protect your soft dentine underneath it.

You wouldn’t want to put your finger in an acid chemical……so why subject your teeth to it?

So How can I keep my teeth as healthy as I am trying to keep my body?

You will need to minimise the amount of acid attack on the teeth.  You can do this by keeping the acid strength down (less) and keep the time of exposure down as much as possible.  Also, if you rinse your teeth with water it can help your saliva get the pH back to normal more quickly .

Are there other things that create an acid environment in my mouth?

Yes, your body does have its own innate acid producing system in your stomach.  Some people with acid reflux or habits such as bulimia may suffer from severe tooth wear especially on the inside of the upper teeth. 

Acid Erosion on the back of the upper teeth from acid reflux.

What do I do about Acid Attack on my Teeth?

Check with your dentist if you are worried that you might have damaged teeth due to acid attack.  Your dentist will be able to help guide you with better habits and also fix the lost tooth structure.  Otherwise use these tricks to counteract the acid attack:

  • Rinse your mouth out with water if you eat or drink anything
  • Chew chewing gum for 10 minutes to get your saliva to flow (but not too long as it can slowly damage your joint)
  • Leave some toothpaste in your mouth after you’ve brushed to let the fluoride soak in and harden your teeth.
  • Don’t brush your teeth too soon after you have had an acid drink in your mouth, you will brush away the soft enamel.
  • Drink your acidic drinks through a straw

Call Enamel Dentistry if you’d like us to check your teeth for you.

By Dr Sheryl Smithies

Associate Dentist at Enamel Dentistry

summer cocktail, detox, mineral water, lemon slice, mint leaf, lemon ginger cucumber