Chemical factors

Monogr Oral Sci. 2006;20:77-87. doi: 10.1159/000093353.


pH value, calcium, and phosphate and to a lesser extent fluoride content of a drink or foodstuff are important factors explaining erosive attack. They determine the degree of saturation with respect to tooth minerals, which is the driving force for dissolution. Solutions oversaturated with respect to dental hard tissue will not dissolve it. Addition of calcium (and phosphate) salts to erosive drinks showed protection of surface softening. Today, several Ca-enriched soft drinks are on the market or products with naturally high content in Ca and P are available (such as yoghurt), which do not soften the dental hard tissue. The greater the buffering capacity of the drink or food, the longer it will take for the saliva to neutralize the acid. The buffer capacity of a solution has a distinct effect on the erosive attack when the solution remains adjacent to the tooth surface and is not replaced by saliva. A higher buffer capacity of a drink or foodstuff will enhance the processes of dissolution because more ions from the tooth mineral are needed to render the acid inactive for further demineralization. Further, the amount of drink in the mouth in relation to the amount of saliva present will modify the process of dissolution. There is no clear-cut critical pH for erosion as there is for caries. Even at a low pH, it is possible that other factors are strong enough to prevent erosion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Beverages / analysis
  • Buffers
  • Calcium / analysis
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Food Analysis
  • Food, Fortified
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Phosphates / analysis
  • Phosphorus, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Saliva / physiology
  • Solubility
  • Tooth Erosion / chemically induced*


  • Buffers
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Phosphates
  • Phosphorus, Dietary
  • Calcium