Why is soda bad for your teeth?

Soft drinks are no longer an occasional treat  

Sadly, soda, for many, has become part of the American diet. It seems to have taken the place of water, the essential element our bodies need for hydration.  Whether you like to call it “soda” or “pop”, soft drinks have emerged as one of the most significant dietary sources of tooth decay.

Consumption on the rise

Soft drink consumption in the United States had increased dramatically across all demographics groups, especially among children and teenagers.    According to the CDC, one half of the U.S. Population consumes sugar drinks on any given day, and 25% consumes more than one 12 ounce can of cola.

Larger serving sizes have made the problem worse 

As if it’s not bad enough that we have become accustom to drinking liquid sugar, but the average portion size has grown larger as well.  What was once a 6.5 oz. soda in the 1950’s, has grown to a 20 oz. soda by the 1990’s.  This has become a great concern for dentist in relation to tooth decay, as well as for physicians, in relation to obesity.  It is important to keep in mind that one 12-ounce serving can contains 8-10 teaspoons of sugar. ”The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day [about 100 calories], and men consume no more than nine teaspoons [150 calories] per day.”

Sugar tablespoons in soda

How does Soda actually damage your teeth?

Simply stated, when you drink a soda, your teeth are bathed in sugar and acid.   Soda is liquid sugar, think of it as a liquid candy bar.  It’s doesn’t sound very healthy does it?  That’s because it’s not.

Sugar – The food Source for bacteria

Your teeth and gums are covered with a sticky layer of bacteria known as plaque.  Bacteria feeds off of sugar, which is plentiful in soda, energy drinks and fruit juices.  When bacteria comes in contact with soda in your mouth, they begin to metabolize the sugar and create acids as byproducts.  These acids attack the tooth structure and enamel for at least 20 minutes, increasing your risk of tooth decay.  Every time you take a sip of soda, this 20-minute acid attack starts all over again.

Acid – Erodes tooth enamel

Most soda contain phosphoric acid and citric acid, which are both highly damaging to your teeth.  Acids can soften the enamel of the teeth, increasing the risk of cavities and tooth decay.  Regular loss of enamel due to erosion can lead to the exposure of the inner layers of the tooth that may make the teeth sensitive and/or painful.  If you have a receding gum line, keep in mind that acid will do more damage below the gum line. 

Diet soda drinkers beware!

Although drinking diet soda solves the problem of exposing your teeth to the damaging effects of sugar, diet sodas are still acidic and still promote tooth decay.

 What To Do

It is best to remove soda from you diet completely and drink water instead, however, if you cannot cut it out completely practice drinking it in moderation or only on special occasions.

Use a straw, sipping through a straw reduces the amount of contact sugar and acid have on your teeth.

Do not sip on soda slowly or over long periods of time as it exposes your teeth to repeated sugar and acid attacks.

After drinking soda, take a drink of water, preferably tap water that has been fluoridated.  Drinking water after soda will help remove or dilute the sugar and acid from your teeth.

Brush your teeth after drinking soda with fluoride toothpaste and, if you like, take it one step further and rinse with a fluoride mouthwash.

Never drink soda before you go to sleep, the damaging effects are increased.

Never, never drink soda while sleeping. -Yes, people are known have it on their nightstands, sipping on it through the night- Water should be your only source of hydration through the night.  This practice only results in bad outcomes.

Schedule regular check-ups and cleanings to remove plaque, bacteria, from your teeth.

Drink water instead!  It is what our body is designed to drink.  Our thirst craves water. Water is the body’s No.1 choice for hydration.

Photos of tooth decay due to soft drink consumption

tooth decay due to soda

soda damage to teeth

tooth decay soda