Did you know that people call sugary, carbonated soft drinks different things across the United States? While the term soda is most common on the West Coast, East Coast, and certain Midwestern cities (like St. Louis and Milwaukee), most people in the South call it coke or cola. And in much of the Midwest, residents refer to it as pop. In some smaller populations, people even call it sodie, tonic, soda water, or carbo. No matter what you call soft drinks, you’re likely aware that they’re sweet treats – not nutritious beverages. But do you know how much damage they can cause? Scroll down to learn how soda affects your teeth.
According to a recent study, on any given day in 2014, 60.7 percent of children and 50 percent of adults drank a sugary beverage. While these figures revealed a decrease in modern soda consumption per capita, consumption is still high amongst certain populations, including minorities and adolescents.
From a nutrition standpoint, it’s clear that the calories and sugar in soda are harmful. The prevalence of soda in American culture has contributed to a rise in obesity, especially the obesity of children. There is also a link between heavy soda consumption and conditions like diabetes and osteoporosis (source). We could delve into the overall health ramifications further, but today we’re focusing on how soda affects your teeth.
How Soda Affects Your Teeth
In laboratory studies, it has been shown that soda erodes tooth enamel (source). The sugars in soda combine with the bacteria in your mouth, forming an acid that attacks the teeth. Each time you take a sip of soda, you’re starting another acid attack that will weaken your tooth enamel (source). These acid attacks are especially harmful for kids and teens because their tooth enamel is still developing. Acid erosion softens the tooth’s enamel and makes it look duller and more yellow. It can change the shape, color, and texture of your teeth, and over time it can cause tooth sensitivity. Tooth enamel is irreplaceable, so it’s important that you protect the enamel you have.
Drinking soda can also lead to tooth decay. The combination of bacteria and acids can lead to plaque, which can cause cavities (source). Weakened enamel can also lead to the formation of cavities. By visiting your dentist regularly, you can ensure that minor tooth decay is spotted and treated before it grows into a larger issue.
Are Some Sodas Less Damaging Than Others?
Yes, but the difference is not significant. Both dark soda and light sodas are damaging to your teeth and should be avoided.
If you’re worried about discoloring your teeth, keep in mind that the brown pigments in dark sodas like Coke and Pepsi are more likely to stain your teeth. Does that mean that light-colored sodas are better for your oral health? Not exactly. According to a study conducted at the University of Maryland Baltimore Dental School, sodas like Sprite, Mountain Dew, and ginger ale are especially harmful to tooth enamel (source). Why? They contain flavor additives that can aggressively erode teeth.
Is Diet Soda Better for Your Teeth Than Regular Soda?
We’ve already discussed how the sugar in soda combines with the bacteria in your mouth, creating an acid that attacks your teeth. Diet and “sugar-free” soda actually contains its own acids as well, which are also detrimental to oral health (source). These acids may include phosphoric acid, citric acid, and tartaric acid.
How Can You Minimize the Damage?
Soda can damage your teeth, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid it altogether. Follow these tips to minimize the effects of soda on your teeth:
- Drink less soda.
- Drink more water.
- Brush and floss your teeth after consuming soda.
- Drink water after drinking soda and/or rinse your mouth with water.
- Only drink soda during mealtimes (source).
- Avoid snacking between meals to give your saliva time to neutralize (source).
- Use a straw when drinking soda.
- Visiting your dentist regularly.
What’s your favorite soda? Coca Cola, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Sprite . . . No matter where you stand on the Coke vs. Pepsi debate, it’s important to keep in mind how soda affects your teeth.
And if you haven’t visited your dentist lately, why not schedule an appointment? At Wilkinson Dental, we provide an array of general and cosmetic dental services, including regular cleanings, crowns, dentures, teeth whitening services, and more. We’d love to help you keep your teeth in the best shape possible. If you live near southwest Missouri, call us today at 417-708-0556 to schedule an appointment.