Healthy human saliva has a pH of around 7.4, and this makes the mouth neutral – not acidic or alkaline. However, the food that you eat can be acidic or alkaline, and this will change the overall pH in the mouth. In particular, acidic foods are not all good for your teeth. They may be healthy, but once the acid comes into contact with the enamel, it erodes it and puts you at risk of developing cavities. Unfortunately, once the enamel is damaged, it cannot grow back. That's why you need to take the following measures when consuming acidic foods and drinks to maintain healthy teeth.
Know what you eat
Have you ever stopped to think about the pH of your favourite soda, sour candy, or pickles before consuming them? If not, it may be time to be a little proactive about understanding the pH of food and drinks. Acidic foods include citrus fruits, sodas and sweetened beverages, sour candies, most grains, and tomatoes. When consuming these foods, be aware of the damage that they can cause to your teeth and take measures to prevent it. For example, use a straw when drinking sodas and juices from citrus fruits to prevent contact with the teeth. Also, swish water in your mouth after eating acidic foods to neutralize the pH in the mouth.
Don't brush immediately
It is a good idea to brush your teeth immediately after every meal, but this act can do more harm than good if you do it after eating acidic foods. The acid in the mouth plus the abrasion from the toothbrush can cause damage to the enamel. Do not brush immediately after consuming acidic foods and drinks. Instead, wait an hour for the saliva in your mouth to neutralize the acid. After that, use good fluoride toothpaste to brush. If possible, you can also brush with fluoride before eating as this is a good way to protect your enamel.
Limit exposure to acids
How long do you suck on a slice of lime or orange? If you love keeping acidic foods in your mouth for extended periods, you could be damaging your teeth. That's because, as you keep a lemon in your mouth for five or more minutes, you give the acid enough time to work on your enamel and erode it. Similarly, when you eat your favourite sour candy for minutes, the sugar and acid feed the bacteria which cause tooth decay. Avoid exposing your teeth to acids for an extended period if you want to maintain oral health.
Visit your dentist for regular checkups so that they can identify signs of enamel corrosion and come up with a plan to keep your teeth strong and healthy.