Fighting tooth decay is something that we do daily as a family dentist offering preventative dental care. One of the things making this more difficult is the consumption of acidic sodas and fruit juices. With low pH levels, they can cause dental erosion and an increase in tooth decay. As a consumer, you can take control of your drinking habits and improve your oral health in the process. First, you need to understand a little bit of background along with why low pH levels are dangerous and what products to avoid.
History of Drinking Habits in the U.S.
In 1942, the average American drank 60 12-ounce bottles of soda every year. By 2002 that number rose to 26 ounces per day for teens, when including fruit drinks. When you look at consumption for citizens of all ages, it averages 68 gallons per year. Doing the math, that means that Americans are drinking around 62 more gallons of soda and sugary fruit drinks annually than they did in 1942.
Phosphoric acid is further exasperating the problem because it is being added to so many beverages to prolong the shelf-life. Citric acid is also being added to increase the tartness or sour flavor of drinks, something that Americans have developed more of a taste for. The signature acid taste is then achieved by malic acid. All three have combined to create an incredibly dangerous situation for your teeth, every time that you take a sip of acidic products.
Why This Matters to Your Teeth
Part of offering preventative dental care is letting patients know about the dangers of certain products. Carbonated beverages and fruit drinks have a low pH level. The lower the pH, the higher the acid content. Most of the beverages people are consuming today have a pH level that is closer to battery acid than to water. Anything with a pH level that is lower than 6.5 is dangerous to your teeth and enamel can dissolve at a pH level below 5.5. In this category is virtually all soda products, sports drinks like Powerade, Vitamin Water, Sobe, and even flavored water have pH levels lower than 4. When you drink them, you are putting your teeth at risk for erosion due to the high acid content.
As the acid comes in contact with your teeth, it can begin to erode your enamel. This is the outer layer of your teeth and you have a limited amount of it. Once your enamel has been eroded, your teeth will become sensitive, more likely to break, and you may suffer greater levels of tooth decay. For the long-term health of your teeth, it is critical that you do what you can to avoid all acidic products, including these beverages: Energy drinks have a higher titratable acidity, this means that it takes longer for the acidity effecting the teeth to recover to neutral state of pH of 7. It must be noted that teeth remineralize at a pH of 7.4 and above. Teeth do not remineralize below 7.4
Here Are Some of the Beverages You Should Avoid
- 5-Hour Energy
Juices and Teas:
- Diet Snapple
- V8 Fruit Drinks
- Minute Maid juices
- Kool-Aid mixes
- Welch’s fruit juices
- Coke products
- Pepsi products
- Most root beer (Any root beer with citric acid, like Barq’s, is bad for your teeth. Ones made with sassafras root for flavoring will not dissolve your tooth structure.)
- Generic soda
These are only a few of the beverages that can dissolve your enamel.
Learn More About Preventative Dental Care
To ask questions or learn more about what products are safe and which ones should be avoided, call our family dentist office and schedule an appointment.
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