Dear Dr. Ellie,
I have read your blog and I understand that mouth acids are bad for my teeth, but I don’t understand where they come from and if there are things I can eat to stop my mouth from being acidic.
Melanie, Brockport NY
Many foods and drinks contain acids in fact it is hard to avoid them. Lemon and vinegar are common examples but diet drinks are a huge source or mouth acids, and many people think they are doing a good thing for their teeth because diet drinks contain little or no sugar.
Bacteria in the deepest layers of plaque produce the acids that dissolve enamel. These bacteria grow in acidic mouths and grow when you drink soda or juice. Medications that dissolve the mouth encourage the bacteria to grow and make your mouth even more acidic.
Stomach acids (from vomit or acid reflux) are also harmful. If you have been ill, or suffer from reflux, it is especially important to keep a health mouth but be aware, some mouth rinses, such as Listerine are acidic and should be rinsed off with a fluoride rinse.
Taste is not always the best way to determine if something is acidic sometimes the taste can be deceiving. Acidity can best be measured on a pH scale with a testing strip. Acid liquids have numbers less than 7. Your tooth enamel will disolve when the acidity is less than 5.5.
You can eat potatoes, milk, bananas or curry to raise your pH. Or you can try Zellies mints and gum to keep your mouth at the optimum pH level (6.5-7.5). Also remember that saliva in your mouth helps to neutralize acids, so give your mouth time in between meals and drinks. Try to avoid sipping acidic drinks throughout the day, or snacking too often.
Take care, and I hope that answers your questions about mouth acids.