Added acid in the food industry comes in basically two forms: phosphoric acid and citric acid. Phosphoric acid is added to all carbonated drinks to preserve the carbonation (the bubbles) until the beverage is opened. Citric acid, which is made and produced as a byproduct of the corn industry, is used as a preservative. To note, we are not talking about citric acid in its natural form–citrus fruits. Although, citrus fruit in the form of juices is just as damaging.
As you may recall, pH is a relative scale we use to indicate acids and bases. A neutral pH is 7 which is for the most part the pH of our bodies. Water is also at a neutral pH. Battery acid is highly toxic at a pH of 1. Most juices, energy drink, sour candies, and sodas range in pH between 2.4 and 4.0. Tooth enamel starts breaking down at a pH of 5.5. The root surface of teeth starts breaking down at a pH of about 6.5.
The Minnesota Dental Association launched a Sip All Day, Get Decay campaign to bring awareness to this issue. The acid in sports drinks, energy drinks, and sodas, whether they contain sugar or not, is the primary cause of weakened tooth enamel. With each sip, acid attacks the teeth for approximately twenty minutes. Consider sipping on water and save those other drinks for a treat!