Would you be surprised to know that some beverages have a pH that is harmful to your teeth? PH is a number that describes how acidic or basic a liquid solution is. The outer layer of our teeth is made up of a crystalline hardened structure called enamel. A pH of 5.5 or lower is enough to cause softening and dissolution of the outer enamel layer. The natural saliva in our mouth bathes the teeth and helps to buffer or neutralize the acidity; however it cannot prevent enamel damage if the teeth are continually covered in acidic beverages. Most people don’t realize just how acidic some drinks can be. A 2006 study published in the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) journal General Dentistry reported that the acidity in soft drinks damage teeth and should be avoided.
Unfortunately, despite the harmful side effects of soft drinks, the current trend is that Americans are drinking more soft drinks instead of less. Over the past 40 years Americans have changed their drinking habits to include less milk, a nutrient-rich low acidic drink, and more soft drinks which are nutrient poor, highly acidic and often contain large amounts of added sugar. In 1996 the average American drank 33 gallons of milk and 20 gallons of soft drinks a year. Contrast those numbers with the 2004 average of just 22 gallons of milk and a whopping 46 gallons of soft drinks per year. The trend is that Americans are consuming more soft drinks; however, soda pops are not the only offenders. Orange juice, energy drinks and sports drinks can also be acidic. Take Gatorade for example that has a pH of 3.7. Perhaps with this knowledge we will be a little more conscientious of what we put into our mouth and how it affects our teeth. If you’re one of those that drink a lot of soft drinks you might try cutting back or better yet, reach for a tall glass of milk or water.
Tags: acidic, enamel damage, pH