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How Acids Affect Calcium in the Teeth & Bones

by
author image Keri Gardner
Based in Michigan, Keri Gardner has been writing scientific journal articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in such journals as "Disability and Rehabilitation" and "Journal of Orthopaedic Research." She holds a Master of Science in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.
How Acids Affect Calcium in the Teeth & Bones
A young woman eating a salad for lunch. Photo Credit DAJ/amana images/Getty Images

Dietary acids affect your body's buffering capability, which may cause a calcium loss from your bones to counteract the acidity. Also, stomach acids from frequent vomiting or acidic drinks will dissolve enamel and affect the calcium in your teeth. Bones can remodel and grow new bone, while teeth cannot. Teeth are held in place by the jaw bone, so when calcium is lost from the jaw, teeth become compromised and cannot repair themselves.

Calcium Metabolism

Calcium metabolism is maintained by your body to keep blood calcium levels constant. Your body moves calcium out of your bones and into your blood as needed. If too much calcium is mobilized, bones and teeth become weakened. Metabolic acidosis causes the release of calcium carbonate to be used as a buffer against the acidosis. If your body produces too much acid and chronic acidosis occurs, loss of bone calcium carbonate will ensue. Acidosis is caused by kidney disease, dehydration, alcohol, high dietary protein and other health problems.

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Acidic Foods

Finding an ideal balance of acidic and alkaline foods keeps your body’s pH neutral. Low pH is acidic, while high pH is alkaline. Neutral pH is considered to be at pH 7.0. An average American diet is high in protein and low in fruits or vegetables, which leads to the creation of acid formation during metabolism. According to William McGlynn at Oklahoma State University, tomatoes, citrus, meat and pickled foods have low pH values, providing a dietary acidic propensity to consumers. Such high acidic food intake can adversely affect your bones by causing them to lose calcium to your body’s buffering needs.

Acidic Drinks

Acidic drinks reduce the pH of your saliva’s buffering capacity. The low pH softens your tooth enamel and allows calcium to leach from your teeth. The pH of cola is about 3.0 and your kidneys cannot filter urine with a pH less than 5.0, so your body uses calcium to buffer the acidity. Dental erosion from acidic beverages has been proved by Leslie Ehlen et al. in the 2008 journal "Nutrition Research," and V. Sirimaharaj, L. Messer and M. Morgan in the 2002 "Australian Dental Journal." Acidic fruit juices, sports drinks and soft drinks have the biggest impact regarding calcium loss in teeth.

Prevention

Changing your dietary habits can correct acidosis in your body and prevent the loss of calcium from teeth and bones. Increasing low-acid fruit and vegetable intake, while decreasing protein consumption, allows your body to better buffer itself. Limit your consumption of acidic drinks, citrus and vinegar foods. Also, using a straw for drinking minimizes tooth contact. Do not brush your teeth directly after consuming acidic foods or drinks and salivary stimulation by gum chewing are beneficial. Calcium fortified drinks protect you against dental erosion.

Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions predispose you to dental calcium loss due to reduced salivary flow. For example, allergy medications reduce excretions, thus lowering the buffering ability of saliva and causing dental erosion from dietary acids. Bulimia and gastroesophageal reflux place stomach acids directly into the oral cavity, causing loss of dental calcium. Chronic acidosis, whether dietary or disease related, likely reduce the calcium in your teeth and bones.

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