Acid Damage to Teeth

Acid erosion

The irreversible loss of tooth structure by the chemical action of acid on the tooth surface.

Acid erosion is commonly associated with acidic foods and drinks.

  • Carbonated drinks
  • Citrus drinks
  • Citrus fruits
  • Wine

To help prevent acid erosion, we recommend the following:

  • Avoid frequent sipping, holding or continual snacking on acidic foods and drinks
  • Avoid brushing teeth immediately after consuming acidic foods and drinks
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste to help harden the enamel
  • Possibly use a fluoride mouth rinse at a different time to brushing with a fluoride toothpaste

One of the signs of acid erosion that patients often notice is the translucency of the incisal edges of their teeth. In other words, the tips of the front teeth in particular begin to look 'thin' or almost 'see through'.


The permanent loss of tooth structure caused by something rubbing on the enamel of the tooth, for example, brushing too hard or with the wrong technique.

  • Pure abrasion would take 2500 years to remove 1mm of enamel
  • Pure abrasion and toothpaste will take 100 years to remove 1mm of enamel
  • Abrasion PLUS the effects of acid erosion will cause 1mm of enamel to be lost in only 2 years
  • Abrasion is usually noticed on the neck (cervical) area of teeth near the gum margins, often where people scrub with their toothbrush
Recent press, social media and self-styled ‘health gurus’ will tell you that drinking ‘hot lemon water’ will be of benefit to your health. There is no scientific evidence to support this.
Lemon juice is acidic, erosive and with frequent consumption extremely damaging to teeth. The damage is increased when the water is hot and drunk first thing in the morning.
These acidic drink will irreversibly dissolve the enamel off your teeth, making them extremely sensitive to temperature and certain foods. Initially the teeth may appear whiter as the acid dissolves away surface stain. Sadly, the teeth will then become more yellow as the opaque enamel layer becomes thinner and the yellower dentine shows through.
Acid damage is becoming an increasingly common and challenging problem for dentists to manage. It is impossible to replenish the enamel lost by surface acid erosion. It can mean patients are committed from a young age to the costs of extensive and ongoing dental treatment.
Infusion drinks, smoothies, fruit juices and fruit teas are all acidic and should be enjoyed sparingly and at meal times to reduce damage from the acid and natural fruit sugars. Fizzy drinks and sports drinks too!!
help reduce the amount of sugar we consume the current NHS guidelines recommend one small glass of fruit juice or smoothie a day at a mealtime.
If you want to find out more on busting the myths purported as scientific evidence, then maybe have a look at Ben Goldacre’s publications ‘Bad Science’ and others . Ben Goldacre is a British physician, academic and science writer. He is a Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, which is part of the University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

The table below lists different common drinks and shows the potential they have to erode the teeth (erosion potential). Grapefruit and apple juice are shown to be the worst.

  pH Titratable acidity Erosion potential
Carbonated water 5.3 0.1 low
Lager 4.4 0.5 low
Beer (bitter) 3.9 0.6 low
Cola drinks 2.5 0.7 medium
Carbonated orange 2.9 2 medium
White wine 3.7 2.2 medium
Apple juice 3.3 4.5 high
Grapefruit 3.2 9.3 high