Are you fond of eating pickles on a regular basis? Then you could be damaging your teeth without realizing it — until now, of course! Although pickles are low in calories and sugar and they promote the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut, aiding your digestion, they can also damage your teeth.
If you are wondering how that might be possible, look no further than the solution that gives pickles their sour taste — vinegar.
Pickles Contain Acidic Vinegar
To give pickles their sour flavour, pickle producers soak them in vinegar. This is what makes them so bad for your teeth, especially if you eat pickles on a daily basis.
In a healthy human mouth, the pH of the saliva should be somewhere between 6.2 and 7.6. At this level, your teeth won't experience any erosion. However, vinegar has a low pH. For instance, white distilled vinegar has a pH of just 2.5. The lower the pH, the higher the acidity, which means that eating pickles increases the acidity of your saliva.
But how does this affect your teeth?
Vinegar Softens Your Teeth
Because vinegar is so acidic, when you consume pickles, you are giving your teeth an acid bath. One way that vinegar harms your teeth is by weakening your enamel. This puts your teeth at risk of damage, especially if you are eating pickles along with another type of food, because your teeth then become vulnerable to abrasion.
For instance, if you eat pickles with a harder food, such as toast, the tougher food will abrade your softened enamel, weakening it and increasing the chances of tooth decay.
Vinegar Erodes Enamel
Another way that pickles can harm your teeth is through direct erosion. In other words, if you eat pickles often, the vinegar will begin to eat away at the enamel surface of your teeth.
Fortunately, you can do something to combat the acidity of pickles.
Eat Cheese to Lower Acidity
If you find it hard to control your intake of pickles, try eating some cheese after a helping of pickles. Cheese is rich in both calcium and phosphorus, both of which can keep the pH of your saliva from decreasing to dangerous levels. In addition, these minerals also help to remineralize your enamel, reversing any damage that recent pickle feasts might have caused.
Although pickles can damage your enamel, by eating them with cheese, you can protect your enamel and enjoy one of your favourite treats.
For more information on what harms and helps your teeth, contact a dentist.