You may not think of your favorite beverage as being acidic. But the flavor or tartness of a beverage doesn’t determine its level of acidity, so it’s important to understand which of your favorite drinks can be harming your teeth. Highly acidic beverages include alcohol, coffee and black tea, sweetened fruit juice, sports drinks, and drinks with artificial sweeteners. Even milk, yogurt, and dairy smoothies are acidic.
A study published in the Journal of Dentistry cited research that showed permanent damage to tooth enamel occurring within the first 30 seconds of high acidity coming into contact with teeth. This means that even if you brush your teeth 30 minutes after consuming acidic beverages, the damage is already done.
Your saliva contains protective calcium that helps strengthen your teeth after consuming small amounts of acid. But if there is too much acid for the saliva to counteract, it will harm your teeth. Signs of early tooth erosion include sensitivity, discoloration, and rounded teeth. As erosion continues to get more serious, teeth can begin to appear transparent and show cracks and small dents on the chewing surface of the tooth. Teeth can also experience severe sensitivity at this stage.
To protect your teeth from acidic beverages, there are several things you can do. Limit your intake of these types of drinks, especially carbonated beverages. Water is always the best. If you do consume acidic beverages, drink them with a straw so the liquid is pushed to the back of the mouth. Swallow quickly without swishing the liquid around. Rinse with water afterward to neutralize the acids. Chew sugar-free gum to produce more saliva, which will help to remineralize your teeth. Use fluoride toothpaste or ask your dentist to recommend a toothpaste that will reduce sensitivity or other products to offset the effects of erosion.
Mineral loss is inevitable because of the elements that teeth are exposed to every day. From food and drinks to saliva and bacteria, your teeth are put through a lot of wear and tear. While your teeth are built to take on these elements, too much demineralization can eventually wear them down.