Acidic Foods are the Enemy of Your Enamel
Cavity causing bacteria love an acidic and sugary environment. It is a common misconception that if the food or drink does not contain any sugar my teeth are safe. But that is so far from the truth. Acid is often the main culprit in creating an environment ripe for decay. Our mouths are a very temperamental ecosystem, usually maintaining a pH of around 6.0. The pH only has to drop about 0.5 (around a pH of 5.5) before the minerals in your teeth start to break down.
Many of the foods and drinks listed below have a much lower pH than your mouth and can rapidly increase your chances of cavities. A good rule of thumb is to use a Rx or professional-grade fluoridated toothpaste or to buffer your mouth by swishing with baking soda and water after a very acidic meal or drink.
These 5 foods and drinks are ones that I recommend avoiding or at least coming into contact with severe moderation. Your teeth and your dental bill with thank you!
1. Sports Drinks, Energy Drinks, and Soda
Typically, these drinks are extremely high in sugar and acid, creating a perfect environment for bacteria and cavities. If you are going to consume these beverages, it is best to do so with a meal thus limiting the exposure time to your teeth to about 1 hour or less. Sipping on them throughout the entire day is the worst thing you could do for your mouth! It keeps your oral pH at an acidic level for an extended period of time creating the perfect storm for decay.
2. Sour Candies
A favorite of movie theaters and ballparks, but sour candies can reek havoc on your teeth. Even if the candy is sugar free, acid is used to make them sour. Acid weakens your enamel and makes your teeth more susceptible to cavities.
3. Sucking on Lemons
It is no secret that lemons are extremely high in acid. Lemons and lemon juice have a pH of 2… only one step above your stomach acid and two steps above battery acid. You get the idea, your teeth will quickly loose minerals and enamel. Please note that sucking on lemons is not recommended. A squeeze of lemon in your water or over a nice piece of fish is much more benign. Just remember: moderation.
4. Chewing on Ice
"But Doc, it's so refreshing!" I know, but stop it! Ice can create small microfractures in our enamel which will lead to cracked or fractured teeth. Typically, your tooth won’t break while you are chewing on ice, but it will weaken just enough that when you are on vacation in the Bahamas and you bite into the delicious crouton on your caesar salad and then suddenly notice a very crunchy piece… your tooth. Trust me, not a great way to spend your vacation! Stay away from this crunchy, no-calorie delicacy!
5. Dasani Water
Oddly enough you are thinking... water? Many bottled waters have a very low pH, thus making them very acidic. Dasani is one of the most acidic bottled waters on the market. If you are going to drink bottled water, do your research. Companies are now buffering their water to make it slightly basic which is great for your teeth and promotes anything but an ideal environment for the cavity causing bacteria to grow.