It is common knowledge that soda can cause tooth decay and damage your teeth. However, many people still believe that drinking diet soda eliminates the risk of cavities. The truth is any type of soda or soft drink can be potentially harmful to your teeth when not used in moderation. We will discuss why sodas can damage your teeth and what you can do to properly reduce your risk.
Some non-diet sodas may contain as many as 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving, and sugar is directly correlated with an increased risk of tooth decay. The normal bacteria on your teeth feed on the sugar to create acid, which destroys teeth. The type of sugar found in soft drinks and candy are used by the bacteria, not the type of sugar you would find in whole grains. Continually supplying bacteria with the fuel to damage your teeth will lead to cavities and can create painful and expensive problems.
So by drinking diet sodas without all the sugar, do you eliminate all of the harmful properties of soft drinks? Unfortunately most still contain phosphoric acid and citric acid, so they can still be very harmful to the teeth. Prolonged exposure to these substances can cause erosion of the teeth. This permanent condition results in the loss of hard tissues from the tooth surface. After the enamel of the tooth begins to erode, you are at increased risk of sensitivity and even tooth decay. The sensitivity results from less protection between the pulp (nerve) and any temperature changes your mouth experiences. The increased risk of tooth decay is because the underlying layers of the tooth (dentin) are not as strong as the outer layer (enamel).
Despite some of the potential risks of both regular and diet sodas, it does not mean you have to completely eliminate them from your diet. Like most things, moderation is the key. You should limit the amount of soda you drink each day and avoid sipping on the drink throughout the day. This constant exposure can cause major problems. So when you do have a soft drink, I recommend brushing your teeth or rinsing with mouthwash when you finish. At a minimum, you should rinse with water or chew sugar free gum to help cleanse the teeth. If you aren’t sure about your individual risk to soft drinks or sodas, talk with your dentist or dental hygienist for more guidance.
For more information on tooth decay, go to www.brownandkupper.com.
Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.