In the last 20 years studies show that a high percentage of young people have signs of dental erosion. The prevalence of erosive tooth wear is still increasing, especially in the younger age groups! Dr. Paul Amato discusses how your favorite beverages may be effecting your teeth in this weeks blog.
What exactly makes a drink bad for my teeth?
pH is a numeric scale used to specify the acidity or basicity (alkalinity) of a liquid.
For instance, pH of lime juice is 2.1 while spring water is 7.4. The higher the pH, the less the acidity, the safer it is for your teeth.
Think about this when you’re drinking those beverages: As the inside of your mouth drops to less than 5.5 in pH, the tooth surface erodes. With each unit of decrease in the pH, there is a 10-fold increase in enamel solubility and a 100-fold increase in enamel demineralization!
Not only is the tooth surface eroding, but with these beverages there’s an immediate softening of the tooth surface that becomes quite susceptible to removal by tooth brush bristles and tooth to tooth grinding.
Now back to the question: Which is worse, Coca Cola or sparkling water?
Coca Cola, with a pH of 2.37, falls under the extremely erosive category, while sparkling water lands in the erosive to minimally erosive group. Oddly enough, S. Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water is slightly more erosive than Perrier Carbonated Mineral Water, but both hover around a pH of 5, a pretty weak acid. The erosive potential of carbonated mineral water is hundreds of times less than that of Coca Cola. So when craving that carbonation, reach for the sparkling water rather than the can of soda!
The Journal of the American Dental Association recently published an article ranking 379 beverages and their level of erosivity. While I won’t list all 379, I’ve picked out some of my patient’s favorite drinks and ranked them for you here: Extremely Erosive; Pepsi 2.39, Ocean Spray Cranberry 2.56, Kool-Aid Mix Cherry 2.71, Rockstar Energy Drink 2.74, PowerAde Fruit Punch 2.77, 5-Hour Energy Berry 2.81, Sunny D 2.92, Snapple Peach Ice Tea 2.94, Gatorade Frost 2.99 Erosive; Propel Lemon 3.03, Diet Dr. Pepper 3.20, Izze Sparkling Clementine 3.27, Sobe Strawberry Dragon Fruit 3.32, Fuze Strawberry Banana 3.54, Monster Assault 3.58, Vitamin Water Revive Fruit Punch 3.65, Simply Orange Orange Juice 3.78 Minimally Erosive; V8 Vegetable Juice 4.23, A&W Root Beer 4.27, S. Pelligrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water 4.96, Starbucks Medium Roast 5.11, Perrier carbonated mineral water 5.25
Will Fluoride Help?
Fluoride does not prevent erosion because highly acidic environments solubilize fluorapatite and calcium fluoride. In other words, the acid dissolves the fluoride that would have helped strengthen your teeth.
Can I do anything about it?
Yes! Eliminate extremely erosive drinks (pH = 3.0) and cut back on erosive (pH = 3 – 3.99) and minimally erosive (pH ≥ 4) drinks.
And don’t sip. Studies show that a person’s drinking method strongly affects tooth-surface pH and thereby the risk for dental erosion. The longer a drink stays in the mouth, the more noticeable the drop in pH in that person’s mouth. The less contact these liquids have with your teeth, the better.
So the next time, sip with a straw!