How Soft Drinks, Even Diet Ones Harm Your Teeth

Soft drinks for many people have replaced water as their staple drink. Statistics show that soft drink consumption is on the rise among people of all ages, but especially children and teenagers. Serving sizes have also increased over the years, now averaging 20 ounces.

A soft drink habit can have much worse consequences than many people think. Soft drinks contain extremely high amounts of refined sugar and are also very acidic. Excessive sugar consumption causes obesity and has been linked with a number of health problems including bad oral health. Acidic drinks also erode teeth enamel, possibly leading to a number of dental problems.

Drinking Soda Equivalent to Drinking Battery Fluid?

Soft drinks are extremely corrosive for your teeth due to the dangerous combination of high amounts of sugar and phosphoric acid that they contain. Some studies even go as far as insinuating that the consumption of soft drinks is as bad for your teeth as drinking battery fluid would be (don’t test this out though).

Acid-producing bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar. The more they are fed, the more tooth decay they cause. The acidity of soft drinks can lead to even more oral health issues than their sugar contents though. Phosphoric acid erodes tooth enamel, the protective barrier on the outside of your teeth. With the enamel gone your teeth are prone to a whole range of dental health problems.

Diet Soda is Not a Good Alternative

Diet soft drinks also contain phosphoric acid, and thus can cause the same amount of enamel erosion as regular soft drinks. An extreme diet soda habit was actually shown to be as bad as a crystal meth or crack cocaine addiction with regards to oral health in a recent case study. In this case study three people’s oral health was compared. All three subjects in the study had maintained poor oral hygiene for years. The first subject had a crystal meth addiction, the second subject had been addicted to cocaine for 18 years and the third one had been drinking an excessive amount of diet soda (about two liters per day) for several years. In the comparison that was done, oral health was determined to be about equally bad among all of them.

While this case study was too limited to provide conclusive evidence on the impact of diet soda on oral health, it definitely provides food for thought.

How to Solve the Soft Drink Problem

Moderation in the consumption of any type of soft drink is advisable and when you do drink soft drinks, you should rinse your mouth with water afterwards or chew sugar-free gum. Using a straw can also help, because it limits the contact of your teeth with the drink.

Try to stop buying soft drinks in the supermarket and start considering them as a treat for when you go out or are on holidays. Once you’ve given up your soft drink habit for a few months you’ll notice that you stop craving these sugar-laden drinks.

Always make sure to keep practicing good oral hygiene and regularly see a dentist, especially if you notice any indications of enamel erosion or other dental health issues.

Zane Schwarzlose writes for Greenspoint Dental, a Houston dental office. Zane does drink diet soda and feels bad about it.

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