Information for Patients: Acid Erosion

Acid Erosion is a condition on the rise. It used to be rare, but is now common, especially among boys age 10-20. It happens when acid destroys the enamel. Some of these kids have done 60 years of wear on their teeth in 5 years. (image shows a teenager with the enamel of a 65-year-old!)

This is how a normal molar should look.

Tooth enamel is extremely hard, but can dissolve in acid. You can get acid erosion from:

Soft Drinks- Did you ever notice your teeth feeling slightly rough when you rub them together after having a coke? The enamel has been slightly etched - making it rough - by the phosphoric acid that is one of the ingredients. Carbonation itself adds acidity as well as fizz, because the carbon dioxide creates carbonic acid in solution. Soft drinks are never great for your teeth, but if you do have them, make it occasionally only, not daily. Whatever you do don’t sip on them for a long time or swish them around to dissolve the bubbles in your mouth.

A wide variety of snack drinks and food - including many natural juices - have surprisingly low pH (in other words, they’re acidic). Tooth enamel is mostly calcium, and acid will dissolve it the same way descaler solution dissolves the scale in the bottom of your kettle. And it takes surprisingly little acidity - anything with a pH below 5 can do it. Teenagers are the most frequent victims of acid damage because they drink a lot of pop and juices, and tend to sip and swish it in their mouths. The worst erosion comes when people swish or hold the soft drink in their mouth to dissolve the bubbles a bit. And here’s a statistic for you: North American women drink more Diet Coke than water!

Here’s someone who drank almost a case of pop a day, after 1 year’s damage!

You may download a good article on Acid Erosion from Soft Drinks here. It includes charts of relative acid levels of different drinks.

Dr. Kent Smith’s website has a very good list as well.

Fruit juices at full strength are quite acid, as are iced tea and sports drinks. A glass of orange juice has all the sugar and acid from 4-6 oranges, in a much more concentrated form. Kids who drink 3-4 glasses of juice a day get up to 36 spoons of sugar and a lot of acid from this.The answer here is moderation! Have juice with meals, and only water, milk or very dilute juice between. If you drink a lot, it’s got to be water or very dilute drinks.

Acid foods can destroy enamel very quickly. Sour candies are terrible causes of erosion. Watch out for these! There are dozens of different kinds of extremely sour candies on the market, and we are seeing massive damage to enamel due to them. These should only be eaten in moderate doses, not a pack at a time.

This one even says it’s hazardous!

There are three critical factors that determine the amount of harm dietary acidity can do to your teeth:

Vitamin C chewable tablets can hurt your teeth with prolongued exposure - this is the reason we suggest swallowing without sucking on the tablets. (Vitamin C is Ascorbic Acid, and they shouldn’t even sell the chewable type in our opinion).

There is an excellent article on acid erosion at Dr. Steve Hendry’s website, and this page was co-written with Dr. Hendry’s assistance. Dr Kent Smith’s website also has a good list of drinks and acidity.

Acid reflux from the stomach: People with Bulemia tend to burn out the enamel inside their front teeth. Other people have acid reflux that seeps up from the stomach during the day. This condition needs to be treated by your medical doctor.

Please visit this page for info on how to care for teeth with acid damage:
Care for Acid-Damaged Teeth