The Woodlands and Houston, TX
Many people typically think that most beverages are harmless to their teeth except for regular, sugar filled sodas and soft drinks. But this is far from the truth! Contrary to what many people think, diet sodas and soft drinks, along with other beverages such as sports drinks and energy drinks can be just as harmful to your teeth over time. Most regular sodas contain an incredible amount of sugar, often times more than ten teaspoons per can, and when you consider the fact that many of us opt for the extra-large sized drinks, this amount of sugar skyrockets! Granted that this added sugar is indeed what makes many of our favorite beverages so delicious, but it is also what makes our mouths such a haven for the oral bacteria that cause so many dental health problems. Aside from added sugars in regular sodas, drinks such as diet sodas and sports drinks all still have citric, carbonic, and phosphoric acid in them and it is this acid that leads to tooth erosion, cavities, and weakened gums and enamel.
For most regular and diet sodas, the acidity level, or pH, ranges from 2.4-3.4, where as the normal level in our mouths should be around 7.0. This may not seem too significant at first glance, but damage to tooth enamel starts at around a pH of 5.0, which is isn’t even half the level of acidity of most soft drinks. Once you start consuming these drinks, the citric and phosphoric acids they contain begin eating away tooth enamel in as soon as 20 minutes. This fact is what gave rise to the commonly heard phrase “Sip all day, get decay” that dentists tell patients in an effort to steer them away from continuously sipping on even just one soda or sugary, acidic drink over time.
Having one diet soda or sports drink isn’t an unhealthy option as far as your diet is concerned, but when you sip on that one “healthy” beverage over the course of several hours, you are essentially bathing your teeth in corrosive substances for the entire time it takes to finish that one seemingly harmless drink. This effect is only further amplified when it’s a regular, sugar filled soda. This is why it’s important to note that diet sodas aren’t necessarily a better alternative, especially since many people who love their favorite diet sodas tend to drink so many of them since they have no calories. It is especially important for these chronic soda drinkers to watch their intake, especially if they think that they are avoiding cavities simply because they are drinking a sugar free beverage, because the potential complications of diseased and weakened teeth, gums, and jawbones due to the prolonged acidic damage can be far worse.
Fortunately there are some easy ways to reduce the risks from drinking soda and protecting your teeth from possible decay. Obviously, the best way to protect your teeth would be to just cut out soft drinks, diet sodas, and sport drinks from your diet entirely. But for most of us, the reality is that these beverages are unavoidable and just dropping them cold-turkey just isn’t a realistic option, so the next best thing is to just make an active effort to simply reduce the number of these beverages that you consume. The next tip when you are having these drinks is to make sure that you do not leisurely sip them slowly, because the more time it spends in your mouth, the more time the acids in these beverages get to spend slowly dissolving and eroding your precious tooth enamel. Another simple suggestion is to drink them through a straw, which will allow a lot less of the drink to come into direct contact with your tooth enamel. Even something as simple as having a couple quick sips of water after drinking a soda will help to rinse away much of the acid from your teeth. Substituting sodas and sports drinks with more tooth-friendly options such as a glass of water or herbal tea is also sound advice. In addition, make an effort to steer away from fruit juices and other fruit drinks given the amount of sugar and citric acid many of them naturally contain. You may also find it helpful to switch to one of the new pro-enamel toothpastes that help offer the outer layer of your teeth an extra level of protection. Also, using a fluoride mouthrinse such as ACT or Oral-B Fluorinse once a day will offer many benefits for your oral health.
Remember that we’re all only given one set of natural and healthy teeth, and it’s important to make sure we all invest the minor effort it takes to help ensure that we keep them healthy for years to come by simply doing things such as being conscious of what beverages we choose to drink, getting regular dental checkups and cleanings every 4-6 months, and brushing and flossing twice a day!
If you think that your teeth might be showing some signs of enamel erosion or if you simply just want to get additional advice on how to ensure that soft drinks don’t affect your smile, please feel free to contact our office to schedule an appointment or let us know during your next dentist visit and Dr. Scott Young and his staff will be more than happy to answer any of your questions. Scott Young D.D.S. and his team at Woodlands Dentistry serve The Woodlands, Houston, Kingwood, Spring, and Conroe areas.