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There's an epidemic out there, and no one's really talking about it...

Drink Acidity has to do with the acidity of your drinks!

Hello to our patients at Pope Family Dental. I’ve noticed a very disturbing trend lately. Teeth are eroding like never before, and cavities are on the rise!

Do you remember from middle school science class that all liquids can be rated on a pH scale from 0-14? Anything below 7 is acidic. Enamel starts to erode when exposed to liquids with a pH of 5.5, but the real danger occurs when the pH drops below 4, and many popular drinks and flavored waters are well below a pH of 4. Because of the new-found popularity of these drinks, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in cavities and enamel erosion. It’s very upsetting when I have to tell a child and the parent that I just found 10 cavities, or more. In one instance, I had to disclose to a parent that their child had 22 cavities! Gatorade was the culprit in that case.

enamel erosion

Fig 1. Enamel Erosion

The real concern is that most people think these drinks are harmless or, even worse, beneficial to their health. I’m referring mainly to sports drinks and flavored waters with misleading names such as “Vitamin Water.” Vitamins are good for us, right? Sure they are, but when you look at Vitamin Water’s ingredients, in most cases you’ll see citric acid listed. Citric acid has a pH of 2.2, and makes the overall pH of Vitamin Water range from 2.96 to 3.65! Even worse are sports drinks such as Powerade, Gatorade, and Activ which sometimes have a pH below 3! Those three drinks are on the list of extremely erosive. Have you ever wondered how acidic Coca-Cola is? How does a pH of 2.37 sound? Yikes!


Fig 2. Vitamin Water Ingredients

So why do companies use acids in their drinks? The acids, such as citric acid and phosphoric acid, add flavor and act as preservatives. I’m not here to say that you shouldn’t consume these types of drinks. Instead, just consider moderation and the “time on teeth.” For example, quickly drinking a can of Coca-Cola at lunch vs. sipping it over a three hour period makes a big difference. The more time our teeth are exposed to these acidic drinks, the more erosion will occur.

To see a comprehensive list of erosive drinks, download the PDF file : The pH of Beverages in the United States that was published by the American Dental Association in 2016.

Click here to see a video where I talk more in depth about this epidemic.

Dr. Dan

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Dr. Pope with his family