Around Halloween every year, jokes about visiting the dentist after Trick-or-Treating make their rounds. Most people know that candy causes cavities. The sugar in these confections stays in your mouth for several hours after consumption, feeding cavity-causing bacteria. Sugar isn’t the only reason that sweets aren’t good for your teeth, however. Sour candy might be worse for your teeth than most other choices because it contains high acid levels.
pH and Your Teeth
In chemistry, a pH scale measures the acidity of various substances. Anything with a pH of less than 7 is considered acidic, while anything higher than 7 is alkaline. You can also measure the pH of the foods that you eat, which might be higher or lower than what tooth enamel can stand. Tooth enamel generally starts to erode at a pH of 5.5, which fluctuates depending on the concentration of phosphate and calcium in your saliva.
Sour Candy Erodes Enamel
Sour candies generally have low pH, making them possibly one of the worst sweets to put in your mouth. Many of these treats have a pH close to that of battery acid. Warhead Sour Spray®, for example, has a low pH of 1.6. Compare this to the pH of battery acid, at 1.0. Other sour candies with pH levels close to battery acid include Wonka Fun Dip® and Altoids Mango Sours®. Most sour candies have a pH between 2.0 and 3.0, still well below the pH that starts causing enamel damage.
Another problem with these sour treats is that they are usually hard or chewy, meaning that they stay in your mouth for longer than chocolate or sugary drinks. You might appreciate the long-lasting flavor, but this also means that the sugar and acid stay on your teeth for extended periods of time.
The Price of Lost Enamel
Your tooth enamel serves as a hard, protective shell around the rest of your tooth structures. Enamel damage leaves your teeth vulnerable to the bacteria that cause cavities. The acid in sour candy damages your tooth enamel and leaves the underlying tooth vulnerable to decay.
Enamel also protects you from heavy staining caused by the foods and drinks you enjoy. When acid damages your enamel, you might develop deep stains more quickly than you would ordinarily.
You Can Limit the Damage to Your Teeth
If you love sour candies, you don’t need to choose between your favorite treat and your teeth. You can limit the damage done by the sugar and acid by rinsing your mouth with water after eating sour candy. In some cases, following your candy with vegetables such as celery will also scrub away some of the sugar. Wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth with a toothbrush, or else the bristles will damage your softened enamel.
Repairing the Damage
Scheduling two professional oral exams per year can help catch any developing cavities before they become a problem. Left alone, tooth decay can cause tooth pain, and leave you vulnerable to infections. Infections can cause tooth loss, bone loss, and run the risk of spreading to other parts of your body. At our office, we can repair tooth decay using white fillings and porcelain dental crowns to restore your teeth in ways that look natural.
We also offer quality teeth whitening services to brighten your smile. For deeper staining, we offer lumineers and porcelain veneers, color-matched with your natural tooth color. These thin restorations can cover the appearance of deep stains to give you an attractive smile.
For more information about repairing the damage from sour candies and other foods, please call 918-528-3330 to meet with a Tulsa dentist today. We are happy to help you maintain a healthy, beautiful smile.