Q: How Does Acid Wear on My Teeth?

By Dr. Cheryl Bresnahan

Acid SodaConsuming acidic foods and beverages can cause loss of tooth structure because the acid in certain foods causes the enamel to break down at a pH of 5.2, and the root surfaces beaks down at a pH of 6.7.  The following chart shows the various pH’s of popular foods and beverages. Limiting how much and how often you have these foods will help prevent tooth wear.  If you see wear on your teeth that is located on the chewing and outside surfaces of your bottom teeth, the wear is mostly caused by acids foods and beverages that we consume.

It is hard to not have any of the following items in your diet.  If you are going to consume some of the items, then do not brush for at least 30 minutes post any acid consumption.  If you must brush before 30 minutes have passed, rinse with water, then put some sodium bicarbonate in your mouth than can conveniently be found in baking soda toothpaste such as Arm & Hammer maximum baking soda. Please avoid buying toothpaste that has hydrogen peroxide, because that is an acid that will soften your teeth.

A Simple Self Test

There is a self-test that you can do to see if your teeth are affected by acid at any given time.

All you have to do is simply rub your teeth together after you have an acidic substance like soda.  If your teeth are softened by the acid, your teeth will grab/catch against each other and this is called demineralization.  Let time and saliva work to remineralize the teeth and then test them again by rubbing your teeth together.  If they are hard again, the teeth will be slippery smooth against each other.  This is why you don’t want to brush your teeth right after an acid beverage, because you will indeed brush your valuable enamel away.

Dr. Cheryl Bresnahan is a licensed dentist and the founder of Dental Perfections in Whitewater, WI. If you'd like to ask her a question, please visit the Ask Dr. Cheryl section of our Web site.