The capability of a soft drink or a juice to erode dental enamel depends not only on the pH of the drink, but also on its buffering effect. As the latter is the ability of the drink to resist a change of pH it may add to the effects of the actual pH. The aim of the present study was to compare the pH and the buffering effect of various soft drinks with their erosive effects and the solubility of apatite. In 18 soft drinks, mineral waters and juices available on the Danish market, pH and the concentrations of calcium, phosphate and fluoride were determined. The buffering effect was determined by titration with NaOH. Human teeth (n = 54) covered with nail varnish except for 3×4–mm windows were exposed to 1.5 liters of the drink for either 7 days or 24 h under constant agitation. The depth of the erosions was assessed in longitudinal sections. The depth was found to vary greatly from 3 mm eroded by the most acidic drinks and fresh orange juice to only slightly affected surfaces by most of the mineral waters. The dissolution of enamel increased logarithmically inversely with the pH of the drink and parallel with the solubility of enamel apatite. Orange juice, pH 4.0, supplemented with 40 mmol/l calcium and 30 mmol/l phosphate did not erode the enamel as the calcium and phosphate saturated the drink with respect to apatite. Generally, the lower the pH the more NaOH was necessary to bring the pH to neutrality. In particular the buffering effect of the juice was high. For all drinks, no effect of their low fluoride concentrations was observed.

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