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How to tell if a food or drink is acidic

One way to ensure the long-term health of your teeth is by halting enamel erosion, which can result from eating an unbalanced diet. How can you tell if the foods you’re eating are harmful to your teeth? We share some tooth-protecting tips and tricks.

couple drinking juice

What is acid wear?

Acid wear is essentially tooth degradation caused by a softening of the tooth’s hard, mineral surface, called the enamel. This hard surface protects the tooth’s nerves and internal integrity from sensitivity, rot and decay. Though enamel erosion can result from sickness, regurgitation and brushing your teeth with a hard-bristle toothbrush, it is most often caused by eating foods that are highly acidic.

How can you prevent your teeth’s enamel from eroding? One of the easiest ways is to restore your mouth’s natural pH balance, as this will help a tooth’s surface recover and slowly reharden.

Get to know the pH scale

This scale measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral (for example, pure water). Anything below 7 is acidic; anything greater is alkaline.


Acidic foods are generally thought to be harsher on the body even though they can be nutrient rich. For instance, blueberries and lemons are acidic but very good for you. The trick to eating them while ensuring they cause no damage to your teeth is to consume them with alkaline or “neutralizing” foods. For example, lemon mixed with water is one of the most detoxifying and healthy drinks you can consume.

So how can you tell if a food is acidic or alkaline?

Test your food

If you’re looking to gauge how acidic your diet is, perform one of the first tests most people learned in grade school science class: the pH test. It’s pretty simple to do now as an adult.

Simply place 1–2 tablespoons of a certain food in a small bowl or cup. Dip one end of a pH strip (which you can find at a drugstore) into the mixture, and hold it in place for a few seconds. The paper will begin to change colour. Once you’ve noted the colour the paper has changed to, compare it to the colour scale on the packaging of the paper strips you purchased. This will help you decipher whether a food is alkaline or acidic, and from there you can figure out how to pair up foods to neutralize the damage they can do on your teeth.

Find out which foods are the most acidic >>

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