Soda Vs. Teeth
HAVE YOU EVER HEARD of “Mountain Dew Mouth”? It is what happens to our teeth when we drink too much soda. The term comes from rural Appalachia, where that particular drink has long been the carbonated beverage of choice and tooth decay is alarmingly common. But this does not just happen in Appalachia, and Mountain Dew is not the only drink that contributes to tooth decay.
The Dangers Of Sugary Drinks
When we eat or drink something with sugar in it, the sugar sticks to our teeth afterward. Sugar itself does not do any damage to our oral health, but it is unfortunately the favorite food of the bacteria that live in our mouths. These bacteria eat the sugar and then excrete acids that erode our tooth enamel, causing to tooth decay. They also cause inflammation that increase the risk of gum disease. Any source of sugar can negatively impact oral health. Sugary drinks (including fruit juice, sports drinks, energy drinks, and especially soda) are particularly dangerous because they are not filling like solid food and are therefore easy to keep drinking.
Effects Of Carbonation
If sugar is the problem, can we keep our teeth healthy by switching to diet soda instead of giving up carbonated beverages altogether? Diet soda is certainly an improvement, but sugar is not soda’s only threat to dental health. Acid is also a contributing factor in tooth decay. Sugar leads to tooth decay because oral bacteria eat sugar and excrete acid that erodes tooth enamel. Soda cuts out the middle man and applies acid directly to the teeth. Even diet sodas and carbonated water contain acid. The three types of acid commonly found in soda are citric, phosphoric, and carbonic. Any drink with citrus flavoring will have citric acid, many colas get their flavor from phosphoric acid, and carbonic acid is what makes these drinks fizzy.
Protecting Your Smile
It would be best for your teeth to avoid soda and other sugary drinks entirely. If you cannot bring yourself to give up your favorite drink completely, there are a few ways to enjoy it while protecting your teeth. One way would be to only drink soda with a meal instead of sipping from a can or bottle throughout the day so that the sugar and acid are not sitting in your mouth for long periods of time. You can also help balance your mouth’s pH and rinse away remaining sugar by drinking water after the soda. Finally, you can clean away the last traces of sugar and acid by brushing your teeth. It is a good idea to wait until your oral pH is balanced before brushing, which takes about thirty minutes. It is particularly important for children and people with braces to avoid overindulging in sugary drinks. Children have the highest risk of enamel erosion because their enamel is not yet fully developed, and braces plus a soda habit is a great way to end up with stained teeth when the braces come off.
Do Not Forget That We Can Help Too!
Following these good habits will go a long way towards protecting your teeth against decay and erosion from the sugar and acid in soda. Still, do not forget that your dentist is also an important part of the equation. Keep scheduling those visits every six months!
Thank you for always being our valued patients!
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.