The Truth About Citrus Fruits and Tooth Decay

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Lemonade appears to be the official drink of the summer. After all, there is nothing like quenching your thirst with a glass of ice cold lemonade to combat the blistering heat. However, it’s not just the sugar in lemonade that leads to tooth rot. The acidic nature of citrus fruits and other foods has long been known to contribute to enamel erosion. Find out why citrus fruits cause tooth decay and what you can do to continue enjoying lemonade and OJ without destroying your teeth.

Why Is Citrus Bad From a Dental Standpoint?

The acid found in many foods and drinks – both processed and natural – strips the enamel away from the teeth. The process is known as demineralization. When consuming citric acid in citrus fruits, the calcium in your saliva will re-mineralize the teeth by replenishing lost minerals. However, if too much acid lingers in your mouth, your teeth may lose essential minerals faster than it can replace them. This is why most family dentists recommend brushing or rinsing after consuming acid-rich foods.
The lower the food or drink is on the pH scale, the more acidic it is and therefore more of a dental hazard. The pH scale ranges from zero to 14, with anything below a seven considered acidic. Lemons have a pH scale of two to three; other acidic foods like oranges are a little less acidic with a pH of three to four.

The following is a list of other acidic foods that you may not have suspected to be on the lower end of the pH scale:

  • Wine (2.9-3.9pH)
  • Coffee (5pH)
  • Pickles (3.5pH)
  • Sauerkraut (3-4.6pH)
  • Vinegar (2.4-3.4pH)
  • Cheese (5.1-5.9pH)

Keep in mind that pH levels fluctuate depending on factors like preparation and level of fermentation. The pH numbers listed here are more or less placeholders.

Protecting Your Enamel from Citric Acid

By no means do you need to shun lemons or acidic foods. Most of them are quite healthy and rich in antioxidants. Just be sure to take precautionary measures like drinking through a straw. If you absolutely love lemonade, consider opting for lemon-flavored water by squeezing a few droplets of lemon juice into your H2O. A few drops are mostly harmless and will be diluted by the water.

Finally, be sure to keep up with your regular dental appointments to know if any enamel erosion is already taking place. Consider Kenmore Dental if you don’t already have a dentist. We provide general dentistry as well as orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. Please feel free to visit our clinic if you are a native of North Seattle. Entrust us as your dental provider to ensure that your love of citric fruits don’t cause teeth decay.
Edited by Justin Vorhees

Kenmore Family Dentist that Truly Cares for Your Teeth