Soda, pop, cola, tonic — whatever you call it, this beverage is a popular drink with many Americans. Even though soft drink consumption has somewhat declined in recent years, studies show that approximately half of adults in the United States consume sugary beverages (including soft drinks) daily. Adolescents drink even more soft drinks than adults, with 10 percent having three or more each day. Furthermore, West Virginians consume the highest percentage of them in the country — 500 twelve-ounce servings per person per year — according to preliminary data from Emory University.
Soft drinks can cause numerous health problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. But did you know that they can damage your smile too? The acids and sugar found in soft drinks can weaken enamel and cause cavities. Read on to learn more about why soft drinks are bad for your teeth.
WHY ARE SOFT DRINKS BAD FOR YOUR TEETH?
Soft drinks are highly acidic beverages. Each time you sip on a soft drink, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar, creating acid. These acid attacks last for around 20 minutes. Over time, this repeated cycle of sipping and acid attacks weakens tooth enamel (the outermost, hard shell layer of the tooth) and leads to tooth decay. If there is no treatment for the weakened enamel, teeth grinding and other conditions may cause tooth loss in more extreme cases. To learn more about the dangers of teeth grinding, check out our blog, Teeth Grinding: How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth.
ARE DIET SOFT DRINKS BAD FOR YOUR TEETH?
Yes, diet soft drinks are bad for your teeth. Even though diet soft drinks do not contain sugar, they still have multiple acids and low pH values. And just like their sugary counterparts, diet soft drinks also contain phosphoric acid, citric acid and tartaric acid — all of which can damage your teeth. Therefore, even if you choose diet beverage options, the risks of dental erosion and tooth decay remain just as prevalent.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT DAMAGE TO YOUR TEETH?
The best way to prevent teeth damage is to stop drinking soft drinks and other sugary beverages. But this is often easier said than done. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends starting by reducing the consumption of sugary drinks (rather than quitting abruptly) and swapping soft drinks with healthier alternatives. Below are some beverages that the ADA suggests contain little to no sugar:
- Unsweetened tea
- Milk (try an unsweetened milk substitute if you have a milk allergy)
- Unflavored sparkling water
- Diluted juice
Additionally, brushing and flossing your teeth each day are effective ways to remove harmful bacteria and plaque from your teeth. Just be sure to wait 30 to 60 minutes before you brush your teeth after drinking a sugary beverage — it takes that amount of time for your mouth to return to a neutral pH. If you do not wait, toothbrush friction on weakened enamel can cause more damage. You should brush your teeth for two minutes, two times per day using an ADA-approved, soft-bristled manual or electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Incorporating dental products containing fluoride can also help prevent damage, as fluoride helps strengthen enamel and fights against tooth decay. To learn more about proper brushing techniques, check out our blog, Teeth Brushing 101.
Healthline recommends taking these further actions to help prevent damage to your teeth:
- Drink quickly (do not sip)
- Use a straw
- Rinse your mouth promptly with water or mouthwash
- Avoid soft drinks before you go to bed
- Visit the dentist regularly
VISIT YOUR DENTIST | THE LANDING DENTAL SPA
If soft drinks are frequently consumed in your household, drinking healthier beverages and engaging in proper oral habits will benefit you and your family for years to come. To encourage healthy teeth habits and help prevent dental problems, we recommend all patients schedule regular dental exams. If you do not have a regular dentist, we invite you to visit our team at The Landing Dental Spa. Our goal is always to go the extra mile to make sure your appointment isn’t just bearable, but that instead, it is enjoyable! If you have any questions or need to schedule a dental appointment, please give us a call at 304-594-2200 or contact us online. We hope to see you soon!