The beautiful weather we all look forward to is here! It’s a time to dust off the old barbque, enjoy some delicious grill time with family and friends and sip on some cold, thirst quenching soda. Although this image appears heavenly – the soda you are drinking can create a dental nightmare!
I have told my patients for years that besides smoking cigarettes, soda (this includes diet soda too) is the worst thing you can do to harm your teeth. For many people, soft drinks are the beverage of choice. But you may not realize the two-fold damage it is doing to your teeth. First, soft drinks can contain 10-12 teaspoons of sugar per serving. So, when you drink a soda, you are essentially bathing your teeth in liquid sugar. The bacteria that naturally live on your teeth feed on that sugar and produce acid. Without proper care, the acid dissolves the surface of your teeth and creates a cavity.
Second, soft drinks- especially diet sodas- contain phosphoric and citric acid to enhance flavor. The acids wash over your teeth, affecting the entire tooth structure. Over time , they erode the hard, protective enamel, causing your teeth to get thinner and expose the sensitive dentin layer inside your tooth. As your teeth continue to get thinner, the edges can crumble and lose their natural shape. When the enamel is worn away, it exposes the dentin layer to both decay and pain. Tooth enamel that’s lost to decay or erosion won’t grow back. We can repair the damage, but the best solution is prevention.
This is not a problem only for adults. Children and teens who have frequent access to soft drinks can greatly damage their teeth because their teeth are still forming.
Sodas (regular and diet), sports drinks, energy drinks, vitamin waters, fruit juices, teas, blended coffee drinks and wine all contain the sugars that can damage your teeth. A 16-ounce blended coffee drink can contain 500 calories and 69 grams of sugar.
Your best choices for a beverage are milk and or course, water. If you must drink soft drinks – use a straw, do not drink for extended periods of time, do not hold the liquid in your mouth before swallowing, cut down on the amount you consume, and after you drink, rinse your mouth with water and brush your teeth. The best decision is to choose the very best thirst quencher. Water has no fat, no caffeine and no acid!
With smarter choices and regular check-ups, you can protect the health of your teeth for years. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer!