Many of us swear by our morning lemon water fix as a digestive aid, but it’s just as important to be mindful of your dental health when consuming acidic foods and drinks. To keep the acid level around your teeth low, acidic foods and drinks should be consumed with care, and in moderation.
So, is red wine acidic, and can the acid in apple juice damage your teeth? Read on to find out everything you need to know about the effects of acidic foods on your teeth.
How do I know if a food or drink is acidic?
If you’re wondering ‘how can I stop acid erosion on my teeth?’, the first step is to know whether the food and drink you’re consuming is acidic. Acids are substances that have a PH of less than 7, but it can be hard to know how that translates across to the things you consume¹. Here are some things to look out for²:
- Fizz: If a drink is fizzy, it is likely to be acidic. Sodas and carbonated drinks are obvious examples.
- Fruit: Incorporating a variety of fruit and vegetables into your diet is a great way to stay healthy. However, fruits are often foods high in acidity as many contain citric acid.
- Is it fermented: When foods are fermented, they become acidic, so food and drink such as kombucha and kimchi will be acidic on your teeth.
- Ingredients: If you’re not sure whether a food is acidic, check the ingredients list. Anything containing sugar (especially fructose) or yeast will be acidic. Refined foods often fall into this category.
The effects of acidic foods on the teeth
While you may enjoy consuming acidic foods, teeth do not. Acid can weaken your tooth enamel, leaving your teeth vulnerable. While your saliva naturally washes away the acidity, consuming acidic food and drink often may wear down your enamel and cause it to lose some of its mineral content².
The acidic foods and drinks you should avoid
As explained above, acidic foods can cause long-lasting damage to our teeth, and so it’s important to take this into consideration when you are choosing what to consume. Below is a list of acidic foods and drinks you should aim to avoid.
A glass of lemon water in the morning is a refreshing and beneficial way to start the day, but the issue for your teeth is lemon’s acidic quality. The acid in lemons attacks the hard enamel surface of the teeth, slowly dissolving it. This is known as acid erosion, and the enamel erosion it creates is one of the leading causes of tooth sensitivity.
To reduce contact between your teeth and the acid in lemons, keep the lemon slices to a minimum.
2. ‘Sugar-free’ drinks
Fruit juice can be bad for oral health, and the same can be said about sugar-free drinks. Even if soft drinks are sugar-free, they are some of the worst culprits for causing acid erosion on teeth. Many of these ‘healthy’ drinks actually contain citric acid, phosphoric acid, and tartaric acid, all of which can damage teeth. Carbonation, which gives many soft drinks their fizz, also raises the level of acidity for any drink.
Switch to drinks that don’t contain as much acid, like milk if you tolerate it well and, of course, water.
3. Red wine
Much has been made of some of the health benefits of a small glass of red wine. However, while you’re sipping on a glass on red wine, you’ll experience the same issues as with lemon water, because red wine’s acid levels can contribute to enamel erosion. Nevertheless, it’s important to consume any alcoholic beverages in moderation.
To counteract the acid when you drink a glass of wine, drink water with it. There’s also a dental benefit to that popular wine accompaniment, cheese: it can help lessen the acid by raising the pH level and increasing the saliva in your mouth, and the calcium it contains will help to re-harden enamel. For this reason, snacking on dairy products after eating any sort of acidic foods and beverages is a good idea.
4. Other foods in high acidity to avoid
Snacking on vitamin-packed fruit is great for your health, but it can be damaging for your teeth. This also applies to fruit juice: the acid in apple juice, citrus fruit juices and many others can contribute to acid erosion on teeth, especially if you drink them regularly.
You can usually tell high and low acidic food levels apart by taste. Food that has a sour or zingy taste like tomatoes, or anything pickled in vinegar, is likely to be high in acid. Sour sweets are also a major source of acid.
What are some low acidic foods?
If you frequently consume acidic foods, teeth can become damaged. An easy solution to this is to lower your consumption of foods in high acidity or switch out some of these foods for low acidic foods. Examples of low acidic foods are:
- Low acid vegetables include broccoli, carrots, cucumber, green beans, kale, mushrooms, peppers, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
- Low acid fruits include apples, avocadoes, bananas, coconut, melon, and pears.
- Other low acidic foods include chicken, oatmeal, salmon, and wholegrains.
How can you stop acid erosion on teeth?
Although avoiding acid erosion would be ideal, this is not always possible. Instead, here are some tips to help reduce acid erosion:
- Consuming foods that are high in acidity moderation.
- Switching between eating acidic healthy food that could be harmful for teeth and their less acidic alternatives, such as bananas, watermelons, cantaloupe and honeydew melons. A balanced diet is key for healthy teeth and body.
- Keeping acidic food to main mealtimes rather than snacking on them throughout the day, so that its contact with your teeth is limited.
- Drinking fruit juice all in one go, rather than sipping at intervals.
- Drinking juice with a straw to avoid direct contact with teeth¹.
- Rinsing your mouth with water or drink a glass of water afterwards to dilute the acid.
- Avoiding brushing for at least 60 minutes after eating or drinking to minimise the potential for enamel erosion¹.
How to repair teeth erosion due to acidity: Acid erosion teeth treatments available
Once tooth enamel has been eroded or damaged, it cannot be restored. However, enamel that has been weakened due to teeth erosion can be restored and strengthened to some degree by improving its mineral content. Regenerate Enamel Science™ is the first system able to regenerate enamel mineral¹ with the same mineral that tooth enamel is made of, thanks to clinically proven NR-5™ technology. Incorporating Regenerate’s Advanced Toothpaste into your daily oral care routine will therefore help to regenerate this important, protective mineral layer.
If your teeth have suffered from acid erosion, teeth repair treatments include¹:
- Tooth bonding: This is often used for mild cases of enamel erosion. Dental bonding should only be performed by a dental professional and involves a resin being applied to the tooth to restore its original shape and appearance.
- Tooth crowns: In more serious cases, your dentist may recommend tooth crowns. A crown is a type of cap that covers your damaged tooth and is often made from either metal, or porcelain and metal. Again, this should only be performed by a trained dental professional.
How to prevent acid erosion on teeth
Consumption of acidic foods and drinks, like the ones mentioned above, can lead to enamel erosion, which in turn can cause common dental problems. While avoiding them altogether is unrealistic, taking the precautions above — such as drinking water alongside wine, or using a straw to drink fruit juice, can make a real difference in reducing acid erosion on teeth. Regular appointments with your dentist are also crucial in spotting early signs of damage and getting oral health advice that is tailored to you.
Enamel erosion happens to people of all ages, so it’s essential to use quality dental care products that will support your tooth enamel and keep it strong and healthy. Regenerate Enamel Science™ is the first system able to regenerate enamel mineral* with exactly the same mineral that tooth enamel is made of, thanks to clinically proven NR-5™ technology. The use of the Regenerate’s Advanced Toothpaste in combination with the Regenerate’s Advanced Enamel Serum provides significant increase in enamel hardness, with 82%** recovery of enamel hardness after 3 days. Integrating these products into your tooth care regime will help ensure the longevity of your smile.
*Acts on early invisible stages of enamel erosion by restoring its mineral content and micro-hardness with regular use. Clinically proven.
**Based on an in-vitro test measuring enamel hardness after 3 days combined use of Toothpaste and Serum.
The advice in this article does not constitute medical advice; it is solely available for information purposes. We recommend that you consult your dentist If you are experiencing any dental problems.