The effect of pH on the erosion of dentine and enamel by dietary acids in vitro

J Oral Rehabil. 2001 Sep;28(9):860-4. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2842.2001.00778.x.


The reported incidence of tooth erosion caused by acidic soft drinks has been increasingly documented. Citric and phosphoric acids are the two main dietary acids present in these soft drinks. Many variables need to be determined in order to assess risk factors for dental erosion caused by beverage consumption including pH, titratable acidity, pKa, buffering capacity, hence the aim of these in vitro investigations. Methodologies included profiling flat enamel and dentine samples (< +/- 0.3 microm profile) from unerupted human third molars. Groups of five specimens were placed in acidic solutions adjusted with alkali over the available pH range; citric, phosphoric and hydrochloric acid were adjusted with sodium hydroxide and citric acid with trisodium citrate. Tissue loss was calculated by profilometry. Results showed that under these conditions citric acid caused far more erosion over the pH range employed than phosphoric acid for both tissue types. Citric acid compared with hydrochloric acid highlighted dissolution and chelation effects. Phosphoric acid caused minimal erosion over pH 3 for enamel and pH 4 for dentine. These factors could be considered in order to reduce the erosivity of acidic soft drinks.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carbonated Beverages / adverse effects
  • Citric Acid / adverse effects*
  • Dental Enamel*
  • Dentin*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrochloric Acid / adverse effects*
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Phosphoric Acids / adverse effects*
  • Tooth Erosion / chemically induced*


  • Phosphoric Acids
  • Citric Acid
  • Hydrochloric Acid