Acid Erosion of Teeth
Acid can come both from outside and inside the body sources. Combining this
acid with toothbrush abrasion or tooth grinding can lead to serious destruction
of your teeth. Outside sources of acid include foods and beverages that we
consume. Inside sources of acid can come from the stomach through vomit,
or acid reflux (also known as GERD – which stands for Gastro-Esophageal
Inside Acid Sources:
Stomach Acid is very strong and erosive to the teeth. If your teeth are
consistently exposed to it, they will erode rapidly. Anyone suffering from
bulimia, women who vomit excessively during the first trimester, or anyone
who vomits often will have serious exposure to stomach acid, and their teeth
will show thinning of the enamel on the inside of the teeththat you cannot see
in the mirror.
Those who suffer from Acid Reflux can be subject to acid coming up into the
mouth multiple times during the day, and even more times unconsciously
during the night, which is especially dangerous since the body is not alert to
release the necessary saliva to buffer that acid.
One of every four people who suffer from acid reflux have absolutely NO symptoms. In fact, often as dentists we can see
these signs of acid reflux on the teeth first and can recommend you visit your physician or a gastroenterologist (GI) doctor
to make sure that you do not have a more serious problem.
Some of the symptoms of Acid Reflux include:
Acid Taste in Mouth Choking Spells Difficulty Sleeping Anemia
Persistent coughing Excess Salivation Failure To Gain Weight Bronchitis
Vomiting Bad Breath Feeding Problems Laryngitis
Sense of lump in throat Belching General Irritability
Hoarseness of voice Heartburn Asthma
Sore Throat Voice Change Recurrent Pneumonia
What Can I do?
1) If your teeth are being destroyed by acids, they can be helped by
having our office make a custom fluoride tray. You will then use a
prescription strength fluoride gel (like Prevident 5000, which is available
at our office) in that tray for 10-15 minutes per day to make the outside
layer of the teeth more resistant to acid.
2) If you or your child are having GERD symptoms:
a) Check with yours or your child’s physician, or by a gastroenterologist
(GI doc) and you may need to be put on a medication that controls that
like Nexium, or Prilosec OTC, or others if your doctor recommends it.
b) Don’t eat large meals (especially fatty meals) within 2-3 hours of your bedtime. This is a VERY high risk factor for
c) RAISE the headboard of your bed 3-4 inches by using a brick, so that the acids stay down in the stomach where they
are supposed to be and don’t affect the teeth.
3) Get a dental fluoride treatment each time you get your teeth cleaned. Dental fluoride treatments give you a dose of
fluoride vital to keeping your teeth strong and healthy.
4) Areas that have already been destroyed can be repaired with dental composites (white fillings). These can keep acids
from destroying more of your tooth by providing a protective layer over the tooth.
Outside Acid Sources:
FACT: pH is a measurement of acid levels, it ranges from 1-14. A “1” is a very strong acid like battery acid. A “7” is
neutral (the mouth’s natural pH ranges from 6.2-7.0). A “14” is a strong base like ammonia.
Anytime you sip on a beverage or eat a sour candy that has a pH of less than 5.5, it can degrade the enamel of your teeth.
Here are some pH values of common beverages:
Water 7.0 (the BEST!) Sprite 3.4 (yes, clear colas are JUST as damaging as dark colas)
Milk 6.4-6.8 Orange Juice 3.3-4.1
Beer 4.0-5.0 Mountainn Dew 3.22
Root Beer 3.0-4.5 Gatorade 2.95
Tea (black) 4.2 Hawaiian Punch 2.82
Apple Juice 3.4-4.0 Coke/Pepsi 2.7
Coffee 2.4-3.3 Cranberry Juice 2.3-2.5
Wines 2.3-3.5 Lemonade 2.0 (lemonade is the worst beverage for your teeth)
Grapefruit Juice 2.9-3.4 Stomach Acid 2.0 (not a beverage, but a reference point)
Diet Coke 3.4
Sour Candies like Warheads, Atomic Warheads, Starburst, Laffy Taffy, Bubble Tape, Sour Skittles are highly erosive. Each
time you consume one, the pH inside your mouth can drop BELOW 2.3. Every time the pH of your mouth drops below
its natural 6.2-7.0, it is then the saliva’s job to “buffer” those acids and get that pH back up to normal. That is why when
you eat sour candy that there is a huge burst of flavor and saliva in your mouth. The mouth is responding to the
MASSIVE pH drop and saliva is released to buffer the acid.
If you are ingesting a lot of outside acid sources – STOP! These are very hard on your teeth and generally contain a lot of
sugar which is damaging to your teeth. Remember that Sugar + Acid + Bacteria = Cavities.
If you must consume these beverages. Try to consume them in twenty minutes or less. Sipping on these beverages over a
long period of time keeps the pH of your mouth low and allows the acid to continue destroying your teeth.