We all know sugar is bad for our teeth. Its cavity causing properties have brought nothing but woe to dentists and orthodontists alike, but is avoiding sugar enough to maintain optimal oral health?
Your dentist says it, your parents say it, the media says it – everyone knows it. Sugar is bad for your teeth and the leading catalyst for the deterioration of oral health. AAA Orthodontics Brisbane are glad that modern society are starting to understand the health concerns surrounding sugar, however we may be overlooking sugar’s evil twin.
Acid in food and drink is equally, if not worse for your teeth as sugar. What is more concerning is that with our society becoming more aware of the effects of sugar, food and beverage companies are realising the demand for sugar-free options. To compensate, manufacturers are increasing the acidity levels to mimic the original taste of their product.
The emerging sugar free culture is providing a false sense of security when it comes to making an adequately informed decision surrounding food choices. Sugar free doesn’t necessarily mean worry free.
What is Acid (PH)?
Acidity is measured by PH on a level of 1 to 14. A PH below the value of 7 is considered to be acidic whereas a PH level above 7 is considered alkaline. To put this in perspective, your saliva has an acidity of 7 which is considered to be neutral (see image below).
Your standard can of coke has a PH level of 2.5 – the lower the PH level, the more acidic it is. As a rough guide, anything with a PH level below 5.5 will cause damage to your teeth. Usually the more sour something tastes, the more acidic it is likely to be whereas the more bitter something tastes the more alkaline it is likely to contain.
Here is a diagram displaying the acidity and alkalinity in some common foods or household items:
There is a difference between the way sugar and acid effect your teeth. Sugar basically feeds the bacteria that are on your teeth resulting in tooth decay. The good news about sugar is that the sugar and bacteria can be removed by a simple brush and mouthwash. However, acid is a direct influence of tooth decay as it strips or dissolves the enamel on your teeth. Restoring your enamel takes a long time and in some cases can be impossible; the best treatment is to use fluoride toothpaste.
Saliva is your natural defence against tooth decay associated with the food and drink you process in your mouth. If you are consistently washing that saliva away with harmful beverages and foods, you’re not letting your saliva do its job. This is why the selection of a low sugar and low PH level diet is beneficial to your oral health.
When you combine a high sugar content and high PH level into one product, you are doubling your chances of tooth decay. Sodas are the epitome of this scenario which is why they should be avoided.
What foods are high in Acid?
Sometimes knowing what foods are suitable can be half the battle. Here is a quick list we have compiled to help you identify safe food that should be limited or completely avoided:
Foods and Drinks with a PH level below 5.5
- Apples, raspberries, pears, cherries, apricots, pineapples, plums, peaches, oranges
- Soft Drinks including sugar free
- Sports drinks
- Energy drinks
- Fruit juices and cordials
- Wine and spirits
- Vinegar based salad dressings
- Lemons and limes
- Pickled vegetables
- Chutneys, relishes
If you need more information surrounding acidic foods, contact AAA Orthodontics at either the Strathpine or Albany Creek in Brisbane.