Did you know that as many as 48% of Americans drink an average of 2.6 glasses of soda daily? Not only did a recent Gallup poll publish those findings, but they also found that this number was higher with 56% of young adults ages 18-34 drinking soda daily. With these statistics, there can be no argument that many Americans love their soft drinks.
Unfortunately, the excessive consumption of soda and other soft drinks can be detrimental to one’s overall and oral health. In addition to causing problems like obesity and type-2 diabetes, the regular consumption of soft drinks can also have serious consequences to your oral health. For starters, soft drinks have two main ingredients that have been found to damage the teeth.
What is in a soft drink?
While soft drinks are composed of numerous ingredients, the two key ingredients that can have serious effects on your oral health are sugar and acid. Most soft drinks contain large amounts of sugars, however the exact amount depends upon the type of soft drink. Regardless, the constant consumption of excess sugars is not only horrible for your overall health, but it can also lead to tooth decay.
Not only that, but most soft drinks contain tartaric, phosphoric, and citric acid. This is especially the case with fruit juices, as well as sodas. These acids attack the tooth enamel at the molecular level, breaking apart molecular bonds of the minerals that make up enamel. This is known as demineralization and it is the first step to cavity formation.
When sugar and acid are consumed together, this creates an ideal environment for cavity formation. For starters, the acids wear down the enamel and make it weak. The sugar is then consumed by decay-causing bacteria, who then produce acidic waste products. The more sugar consumed, the higher the bacterial population, and the more acidic waste products produced. Eventually, the mouth’s natural defense system cannot keep up and a cavity forms.
What about Sugarless Soft Drinks?
Although sugar-free soft drinks do not contain sugar, they are still considered harmful because they usually contain the same amount of citric, tartaric, or phosphoric acid. While they may result in less bacteria reproduction, sugar-free soft drinks will still continue to erode and damage the enamel, making the tooth more susceptible to decay.
But, I love Soft Drinks!
If you are a soft drink fiend, there are some ways that you can minimize the damage being done to your teeth. Here are some strategies recommended for people who absolutely cannot go without their soft drinks:
- Limit consumption: while this is probably the second worst thing to giving them up entirely, limiting how many soft drinks you consume is one of the best ways to minimize the damage.
- Use a straw: another method is to use a straw when drinking soft drinks because it helps to keep the sugars and acids away from your tooth enamel
- Drink fast: drinking fast minimize the amount of time your enamel is exposed to sugars and acids
- Rinse: after drinking soft drinks, it is recommended to rinse your mouth with milk or water to remove excess sugars and acids
- Visit Your Dentist: since people who consume soft drinks regularly are more likely to develop tooth decay, regular dental visits and cleanings are required to minimize this risk and maintain your oral health.
Dr. Chris Vinson and Dr. Kristie Vinson attended the College of Dentistry at The University of Oklahoma. Dr. Chris Vinson has earned a fellowship from the Misch International Implant Institute and a fellowship in International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is also certified to administer Oral and IV sedation to his patients through The Montefiore College of Medicine in New York and is Teeth-Express and Invisalign certified. Dr. Kristie Vinson is trained in sedation dentistry, Botox, and dermal fillers. She received a Fellowship from the Misch International Implant Institute and the Fellowship in International Congress of Oral Implantology. She is also Teeth-Express and Invisalign Certified.