Non-Acidic and Low Sugar Diets
Studies have shown that highly acidic foods can weaken teeth in two significant ways. Normal body acidity, or pH, is 7.4. Lower oral acidity has been shown to create an environment that allows minerals to leach out of the tooth structure and “soften” them. Acidic levels of 5.5 pH or less also create the perfect environment for the bacteria that cause tooth decay to grow and work, which further weakens teeth.
Some highly acidic foods and drinks include citrus fruits, juices, sodas, wine, and coffee. While these may be good in moderation, they can have detrimental effects. For example, studies have shown that every time we take a sip of one of these highly acidic drinks, the oral acidic levels can be lowered for 20 to 30 minutes or more, allowing the teeth to be weakened as described above.
Therefore, frequency of ingestion can have a significant impact on tooth decay. Drinking a soda over the course of 5 or 10 minutes may only create an environment to weaken teeth for 30 to 40 minutes, as apposed to constantly sipping a soda over several hours, which creates this environment for an extended period of time.
Something else to consider is rinsing out your mouth with water following an acidic intake. Water will help neutralize the low acidic environment and reduce the overall time it takes the body to recover to normal pH levels.
Be careful when brushing your teeth right after an acidic intact. Your teeth will already be softened from the acid, and will abrade away more easily. Instead, rinse with water first to help neutralize the low acidic environment, and consider waiting 20 to 30 minutes before brushing.
Diets high in sugars and fermentable carbohydrates have similar effects. Fermentable carbohydrates are foods that can break down into simple sugars in the mouth. These include the obvious sugary foods, such as cookies, cakes, soft drinks and candy. But they also include pretzels, crackers, bananas, potato chips and breakfast cereals.
The bacteria that cause tooth decay thrive on simple sugars such as sucrose and fructose. A natural byproduct of the bacterial digestive process of these sugars is a low acidic environment, which again weakens the teeth. Studies have shown that sticky sugary substances (such as caramel candies) and frequent ingestion of sugars can greatly increase the risk of developing tooth decay. Therefore, reducing the overall amount and frequency of ingestion of these substances can significantly help prevent tooth decay.