As the holidays roll around once again those sneaky sugary treats and acids tend to feature more prominently in many diets. While it’s not a bad thing to enjoy these tasty treats in moderation, it is also a great opportunity to discuss how you can help reduce acidity in your mouth.
What is pH
When describing the level of acidity in a substance, a scale of 0 to 14 is used. Zero represents the most acidic while 14 represents the most alkaline. The middle of the scale at 7 is the equal balance between the two and is where pure water resides on the scale.
Why is pH Important
As we touch on in our blog How Acids Impact Your Teeth, the enamel, which is the outer most protective shield for your teeth, can become damaged by too much exposure to acids.
Think of it in these terms, when an acidic food or beverage is consumed the pH in your mouth is tipped. This imbalance then creates demineralization of the enamel which can create long-term damage.
Types of Foods That Are Highly Acidic
Acidity or the pH of a food can vary, and the higher the acid content the worse they are for your teeth. Of course, many of the foods that many people love also happen to be the least desirable option for your teeth.
Coffee – while this beverage is great for providing a boost of caffeine and energy at the start of the day, it also is highly acidic. If you opt to enjoy a cup of joe or two, you can help reduce the acid by adding in some dairy like milk or a nut milk to help cut the acid. This is preferable to a sugary creamer which also offers it’s own acidic punch.
Sour/Sticky Candy – while sugar itself isn’t acidic it does promote the growth of acid-causing bacteria and can create an acidic environment in your mouth. This is made worse if you’re eating sticky sour candies which carry a higher pH level. The gummy kinds of candies also stick to your teeth which makes it difficult to rinse away with just water.
Fruit Juices and Sodas – these have long been noted as major culprits for enamel. Not only are they highly acidic, but the easy availability of them means that many people sip on these throughout the day. This means that your enamel experience repeated acid attacks every time you sip your drink which can be more damaging than consuming the same beverage in a short period of time. See this great resource for more information on this phenomenon – https://www.sipallday.org
Wine – yes it’s true, the beverage that is so widely popular in our area also comes with a high acid level. Again, whatever type you choose to enjoy just remember to employ one of our tips below for reducing the negative impact on your enamel.
For a complete list of foods and their rankings we recommend checking out this from the FDA.
Tricks to Reduce The Impact of Acids
Consume Highly Acidic Foods During Meals – one way to help reduce the impact of acids in your mouth is to pair them with other items that are more alkaline. In addition, pairing acidic foods with meals also reduces the amount of time they’re in contact with your teeth which also reduces their negative impact.
Use A Straw – if you can’t eliminate acidic drinks from your diet entirely then one way to reduce their contact with your teeth is to use a straw.
Rinse with Water – When drinking or eating a food that’s highly acidic it can help to keep water close at hand. Rinsing your mouth with the water both during and after will reduce the amount of time the acid is in contact with your teeth and help reduce their impact.
Wait To Brush – acids are proven to soften the enamel of your teeth. Brushing immediately after consuming acids can therefore be more damaging to your teeth then waiting for a period of time before giving those pearly whites a good clean. The recommendation is to wait an hour after consumption to brush.
While keeping your diet limited to foods that fall only in the midrange of acidity would be the best for your oral health, we recognize that it might also get a little boring. As long as you pay attention to what you’re consuming and take steps to keep your teeth healthy you should be in good shape.
If you begin to notice signs of erosion like sensitivity to hot or cold foods, discoloration or transparency we recommend that you visit a dentist for a checkup. Of course regular checkups as well as good oral practices play a big role in overall dental health.