What Makes a Food or Drink Acidic?

There are many factors that go into maintaining top-shelf dental health. As much as this starts with a quality brushing and flossing regimen, you also make it easier on your mouth when you limit your level of acid-rich foods and drinks.

The pH level is what is measured when determining acidity. The lower the pH level, the more acidic the food or beverage is. As a baseline, milk has a neutral pH level of 7. Purified water is slightly below that mark at 6.7. Increased levels of acidity take a toll on tooth enamel. The longer yours is at a high acid level, the more damage (in the form of acid erosion or acid wear) can occur. Understanding the pH value of a food or drink is a critical aspect of managing acid erosion in our teeth. 

Which Foods And Drinks Are Highly Acidic? 

Highly acidic foods and drinks do not need to be completely avoided for the sake of dental health, but it should be emphasized that excessive consumption of these can create eventual damage to enamel. Once again, this is especially true when brushing and flossing are not done regularly. As you’ll find in the list below, some foods and beverages that are highly nutritious for our body can still be problematic in terms of acidity.


“Be careful, too much sugar will rot your teeth!” How many dozens of times did you hear this when you were a kid? It’s the truth… However, the sugar itself isn’t as much of an issue compared to the chain reaction it causes. Oral bacteria love to feed on sugars you consume. This creates acids that break down tooth enamel and cause cavities. If left untreated these cavities can penetrate deeper into the tooth, cause pain and, in some cases, tooth loss. If your sweet tooth is constantly nagging for snacks, candy, and treats, try to occasionally resist. Your teeth will love you for it. 

Carbonated drinks and energy drinks

Whether your soft drink of choice is regular or diet, these beverages contain acidity levels that quickly wreak havoc on tooth enamel. Tonic water, while it may not be considered a sugary beverage, can also create acid erosion with a typical pH level between 2.5 and 3.5. 

Fruit Juice

While healthy for your body, the acidity in certain fruit such as lemon and oranges can wear away at tooth enamel, especially if you let them linger in your mouth for extended periods of time. Orange juice for example has a pH level typically in the range of 2.5 to 4. Any liquid with a pH level of less than 5.5 can cause damage to tooth enamel. 


The oral health risks contained in your favorite morning pick-me-up predominantly lie in the tannic acids contained in coffee (and even some teas). These acids wear down tooth enamel and are also notorious for staining your teeth brown. 


The key element to remember about pickles is the pickling process typically requires vinegar. Distilled white vinegar typically measures around a 2.4 pH level. As much as this brings a delightful combination of sour and salty to your standard gherkin, it also makes pickles a potential threat to healthy tooth enamel.


While honey does have health benefits over sugar, there are still high levels of natural sugars that need to be considered. The average pH of honey is 3.9. Additionally, the sticky nature of honey can make it linger around your teeth longer than your typical acidic hazard.

Remember, reducing the risks of acid erosion on your teeth comes down to a combination of governing the amount of your highly-acidic food intake and keeping your teeth clean by brushing, flossing, and regular professional cleanings.

remember, If your teeth are damaged by acidity, your teeth can be restored.

Fargo Dentist | Fargo's Best Dental Office

Understanding acid erosion is a key component to premium dental health. South University Dental Associates is a Fargo Dental Office that has has expertise in helping you understand what foods and beverages are best in promoting a healthy smile. Whether you’re looking to fix teeth damaged by acid erosion or get the best in preventative care, a quality dentist in the Fargo-West Fargo Fargo-Moorhead area is just a phone call away. The team at South University Dental is available to offer advice, a diagnosis, or treatment as necessary.