Highly Acidic Foods And How They Affect Your Teeth

Fruits are loved by most people because they are sweet, juicy, and can be a good source of vitamin C. However, consuming highly acidic foods and drinks daily without the proper aftercare can damage teeth because fruits and fruit drinks can be very acidic. Eating foods that are acidic over time can erode tooth enamel, resulting in conditions like dental erosion and tooth sensitivity. By understanding how acid affects your teeth and taking the appropriate steps to maintain your dental health, you can continue to enjoy the health benefits of eating the nutritious foods you enjoy.

What Is Acidity?

The acidity or alkalinity levels (also known as the basicity) of any substance are measured using the pH scale, which has a range of 0 to 14. You can gauge the ph balance of food, liquids, and even your saliva. Acidic substances are those with a pH below 7, and alkaline substances are those with a pH above 7. Your saliva should maintain a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5 while you are not eating or drinking, which is ideal for preventing acid from eroding your enamel and tooth decay.

What Do Acidic Foods And Beverages Do To Your Teeth?

Generally speaking, the worse something is for your teeth, the lower their rates on the pH scale. Why, then, is it bad? The enamel, a white or off-white substance that serves as a barrier protecting your teeth, is eroded by acidic foods and beverages. One of the four main tissues that make up the tooth is this robust outer layer of defense. Also, you should be careful to avoid experiencing sensitive teeth. Acidic foods and drinks gradually erode them, making teeth more prone to erosion and damage. This has the following immediate effects:

  • Pain and sensitivity when drinking hot or cold beverages.
  • Yellowing and staining
  • An elevated chance of cavities
  • Alteration of fillings

In the long run, this damage may even become quite severe and permanent. Patients may experience abscesses or even tooth loss in severe cases of enamel decay. 

If you have sensitive teeth, using toothpaste specifically made for this condition is essential. Find out more in our guide to Choosing the Best Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth.

What Food And Drinks Should You Avoid?

The following foods and beverages should be avoided or at least consumed in moderation if you want to ensure the long-term health of your enamel and, consequently, your teeth:

  • Fruit juice (especially citrus)
  • Soda and other carbonated beverages (even the sugar-free kind)
  • Coffee
  • Tea (hot and cold)
  • Sports drinks
  • Alcohol (particularly wine)
  • Sour candies
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes

Even though some of these choices might seem extreme, let’s look at how we can avoid harm while still consuming the aforementioned foods and beverages in moderation.

Reducing The Impact of Acidic Foods

In the end, avoiding acidic foods is a good idea, but this isn’t always possible. Additionally, some acidic foods have several health advantages, so consume them in moderation rather than eliminating them from your diet. When eating acidic foods, pair them with alkaline or foods with a lower pH to lessen the meal’s acidity and neutralize the acid on and around your teeth. foods with a higher pH are more alkaline, such as:

  • Nuts
  • Cheese
  • Fish
  • Vegetables
  • Oatmeal
  • Bananas
  • Eggs
  • Whole grains

Fruit and nuts, juice and yogurt, and wine and cheese are all common pairings. These ideal combinations encourage tooth enamel remineralization and balanced acidity.

The enamel softens after ingesting or drinking acidic foods or beverages. While it’s a good idea to brush your teeth after eating, doing so too soon will only hasten the acid attack as you brush and harm your teeth that have already been coated in acid. Drink plenty of water instead and think about chewing sugar-free gum after your meal. Both of these actions will cause saliva to be produced, which will wash your mouth. You can consider brushing your teeth about 30 minutes after a meal.

What Is Dental Erosion?

Despite how tough tooth enamel is, the high acidity of many foods and drinks over time can cause it to weaken and demineralize. Saliva contains calcium that can help strengthen enamel, but if your oral environment is too acidic, remineralization will not take place, which will result in tooth erosion and decay. Typical indications of erosion include:

  • Sensitivity – When in contact with your teeth, hot and cold beverages, sweets with strong flavors, and even cold air can cause sensitivity.
  • Discoloration — As your enamel thins, revealing the dentin beneath, your teeth may appear slightly yellower.
  • Rounded teeth — If there are small dents along the chewing surface, teeth may appear to have softer or sanded edges.
  • Transparency — Your incisors’ (front teeth’s) edges may become less opaque, giving the impression that you can almost see through them.
  • Cracks — Minor flaws or a sharpness along the tooth’s edges are also frequent.

How Can You Protect Your Teeth?

Female, Portrait, Morning

The only surefire way to stop enamel decay is to completely avoid the sources of acid, but for most people, this is just not an option. Here are some suggestions for avoiding harm without having to completely give up your favorite foods and beverages:

  • Use a straw to prevent contact between your teeth and acidic beverages.
  • Wash down acidic meals with water: Drinking water after an acidic meal will help rinse the acid out of your mouth.
  • Refrain from brushing right away: Although it might seem counterintuitive, brushing your teeth right away after consuming an acidic beverage causes more harm than good. Saliva is the body’s natural enamel protector, and it may take up to an hour for it to finish before brushing. Also, you can use the best Colgate battery-powered toothbrush for extra care and cleaning. 
  • Consume acidic foods with meals rather than as snacks to help neutralize the acid and lessen contact with your teeth.
  • Maintain good dental hygiene: Flossing, brushing, and regular dental exams are all excellent ways to promote oral health.

In Conclusion

Acidic foods and drinks can damage tooth enamel, which is bad for your oral health. Of course, eating a balanced diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is necessary to get enough vitamin C. Always remember to take precautions to prevent tooth damage from acidic foods. Brush and floss your teeth every day, eat more non-acidic foods, and limit your intake of acidic foods and beverages to maintain healthy teeth. 

In case you are suffering from toothache due to acidic foods, you may want to read our Guide to Choosing the Right Treatments for Toothaches for the best tips and recommendations.