Remember in season one of Breaking Bad when Walter White uses acid to dispose of an inconveniently deceased character who no one remembers?  Don’t be like Mr. White.  Keep acid out of your mouth!

Many people have seen YouTube videos of Coca-Cola being used to clean a toilet or remove rust from a car’s bumper, and know Coca-cola is bad for your teeth.  But did you know there are lots of other drinks that are also extremely erosive for teeth? What about Vitamin water? It’s just water right? Wrong!  Vitamin water has citric acid in it – one of the two ingredients in beverages that primarily causes dental erosion.

While Coca-Cola Zero has a pH of 2.96, Dragonfruit Vitamin Water has a pH of 2.82! Remember, the lower a pH value is, the more acidic it is! And the more acidic a drink is, the worse it is for your teeth. Check out the table below from this month’s Journal of the American Dental Association entitled “The pH of beverages in the United States” to see pH values of 379 common US beverages.

We all know sugar is bad for our teeth. Sugar feeds the cavity causing bacteria that live in your mouth like Streptococcus mutans, allowing them to grow and thrive! Those bacteria then excrete waste that is acidic and eats away at your teeth forming a cavity. So what about diet beverages? Are they safe for teeth because they’re sugar free? Not necessarily! Even though they don’t contain sugar, most diet beverages still have either citric acid or phosphoric acid in them. These two ingredients are the primary cause for drinks having a low, acidic pH. Drinking something acidic is bad for teeth regardless of whether or not they contain sugar, because you bypass the acid producing bacteria and go straight for coating your teeth in acid! Low pH drinks cut out the middle man and are extremely efficient in causing tooth decay.

So every time you take a sip of your favorite Arizona Iced Tea (pH 2.89) – or other acidic beverage – you’re bathing your teeth in acid. It takes about 20 minutes after you stop drinking for your saliva to neutralize the acid in your mouth and get things back to a healthy neutral pH. That means if you’re continually sipping on something other than plain water, your saliva won’t ever have the time it needs to neutralize your oral environment. You’ll be launching a continuous assault of acid against your teeth!

So check out the tables below. See if your drink of choice is considered erosive. The tables categorize drinks by type – fruit juice, soda, energy drink, etc. – and then further subcategorize them as either extremely erosive (pH less than 3.0), erosive (pH3.0-3.99), or minimally erosive (pH greater than 4.0).

If your favorite thirst quencher is acidic, pay attention to how you drink it! Avoid sipping it over time. Instead, enjoy it in one straight go, or pair it with a meal. Drink it with a straw. Swish your mouth with water after you’ve finished to help speed your mouth’s transition back to neutral.

In short, leave the use of acid for breakdown of human tissues to the Walter Whites.

The below tables were taken from:

Reddy, Avanija, Don F. Norris, Stephanie S. Momeni, Belinda Waldo, and John D. Ruby. “The PH of Beverages in the United States.” The Journal of the American Dental Association 147.4 (2016): 255-63. Web.

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