Does Acid Really Damage Teeth?

Sugar isn’t the only substance that causes tooth decay, as high levels of acid found in foods and drinks is just as harmful. Acidic foods and beverages, such as oranges and wine, can wear down your teeth by causing decay, sensitivity, and discoloration.

Although acidic foods harm your teeth, this doesn’t mean you should stop enjoying all foods and beverages that are high in acidity. There are specific methods you can use to eat and drink acidic foods and drinks without experiencing all the issues associated with high levels of acid.

Continue reading to find out how you can protect your teeth from acid-related damage. 

Understanding Tooth Erosion

Tooth erosion is when the enamel, which is the protective surface of your teeth, wears away. Erosion exposes your teeth’s underlying material, which is called dentin. Exposed dentin is susceptible to plaque and bacteria build-up, which can lead to tooth decay. Unfortunately, dental erosion is irreversible and usually caused by an excessive amount of acids in your mouth. The American Dental Association reports that more than one-third of children and adults worldwide experience tooth erosion. Erosion caused by your diet usually appears as a hollowed-out area on the surface of a tooth. Experiencing tooth erosion is always painful and uncomfortable, and the pain and discomfort will only worsen over time. It’s important to schedule an appointment with your dentist or orthodontist as soon as you notice the first signs of erosion. 

Causes of Tooth Erosion

Calcium is a critical factor in building resilient teeth since calcium is stored in either your bones or teeth. Acid is calcium’s worst enemy, and exposing your teeth to high levels of acid can destroy the calcium in your teeth’s enamel. Acid comes from several sources, which include the following:

  • Fruit juice: Lemon, cranberry, apple, and orange juice are the most acidic juice options.
  • Wine: Drinking white wine or red wine often will soften your enamel. 
  • Candy: All sugary treats are bad for your teeth, but you should especially avoid eating too many sour gummies and candies. 
  • Citric fruits: Snacking on oranges, lemons, and limes daily will wear down your teeth. 
  • Stomach acid: Excessive vomiting and acid reflux can cause severe tooth damage when stomach acid washes over your teeth. 
  • Sugar: Although sugar itself doesn’t contain high levels of acid, it promotes the growth of acid-creating bacteria in your mouth. 

Preventing Tooth Erosion 

Follow these tips to reduce the impacts of acid on your teeth: 

  • Wash acid down with water: Drink water alongside acidic foods and beverages to wash it out of your mouth. 
  • Eat with meals: Save acidic foods for mealtime instead of snacking on them throughout the day. Munching on acidic snacks during lunch or dinner rather than eating them all at once will reduce the acid’s contact with your teeth.
  • Use straws: If you drink acidic beverages daily, you can reduce the acid’s contact with your teeth by using a straw. Don’t swish acidic drinks, such as soda or orange juice, because this will coat your teeth in acid. 

Prevent tooth erosion by taking care of your teeth and drinking more water. If you’re experiencing tooth erosion, you’ll need to consult with a professional to see what treatment options are available to you. Contact Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah to schedule your consultation with board-certified orthodontists.