Acid causes cavities
Tooth decay is caused by a sugary diet…sort of. The reality is that cavities are caused by the acid produced by bacteria in our mouths as they metabolize the sugar in your diet. When you feed the bacteria, the pH drops (becomes more acidic), and tooth enamel starts to break down. When the pH goes back up, the process stops. This is why sugary snacks that are sticky or stay on our teeth for a long time (think gummy bears or jelly beans) are the most damaging. It is clear, however, that this is not the only source of acid challenge our teeth must face.
The Washington Post (12/1, Cha) “To Your Health” reports that researchers from the Melbourne University’s Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre “tested a wide rage of sugar-free soft drinks, sports drinks and sweets and found that many of them can be just as harmful to teeth as their sugared counterparts due to their chemical composition.” Researchers found that because these sugar-free beverages “contain acids like phosphoric acid (found in colas) or citric acid (found mainly in lemon and lime flavored drinks),” they can “strip away a tooth’s outer layer – leading to chalkiness of the tooth’s surface, pitting, opacity, tooth sensitivity and other issues.” The findings (pdf) were published in the Australian Dental Journal. HealthDay (12/1, Preidt) reports that the researchers found that the acid in these beverages “dissolves the tooth’s hard tissues,” causing “dental erosion.” The study showed that “most soft drinks and sports drinks caused dental enamel to soften by between 30 percent and 50 percent.” The ADA provides more information on diet and dental health at mouthhealthy.org. The ADA also lists the top nine food and beverages that damage your teeth, which includes soda, sports drinks, citrus, and candy.
FROM THE ADA