Everyday more than 50% of people in the United States drink a sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB). Though people are drinking less soda, it’s still the most popular sugary drink. People who drink soda are more likely to have problems managing their weight and struggle with health conditions like diabetes and arthritis. Soda is also terrible for your teeth.
At Union Square Dental in the Flatiron District in New York City, we provide comprehensive dental care for all ages. We see firsthand the effects soda and other sugary drinks have on teeth.
Here, we want to share the specifics so you fully understand just how terrible soda is for your oral health.
Soda is acidic
The thin layer of enamel that covers each tooth is the hardest substance in your body. Its primary job is to protect your teeth when biting, chewing, and grinding. Though strong, enamel isn’t invincible.
Acidic foods and drinks eat through the enamel. As it turns out, soda is a highly acidic drink. Soda is only slightly less acidic than lemon juice, according to the American Dental Association.
Without that extra layer of protection, your soda drinking may make your teeth more sensitive, cause discoloration, and make them more vulnerable to cavities. Both regular and diet soda contain acids.
Soda is high in sugar
One 12-ounce can of soda has 10 teaspoons of sugar, that’s almost a quarter cup of sugar. It’s no big secret that sugar causes cavities. However, it’s not the sugar itself causing the erosion, but the bacteria in your mouth that enjoys the sweetness as much as you do.
When you drink soda, the sugary beverage coats your teeth. The bacteria in your mouth break down the sugar, creating an acidic substance that wears away the enamel.
Soda is terrible for your teeth because both the acidity of the drink and the sugar erode the enamel meant to protect it. Without the enamel, your teeth are at greater risk for developing cavities and other dental problems.
Tips for protecting your teeth
If you want to protect your teeth, cutting out soda is a good place to start. But when you have that occasional soft drink — or any other acidic beverage — there are things that might help reduce any damage.
Some tips for protecting your teeth include:
- Consume your soda in one sitting
- Drink through a straw, reducing the amount of soda that hits your teeth
- Rinse your mouth with water after drinking soda
- Wait at least an hour after drinking soda to brush your teeth
You can also try swishing with milk after drinking soda. Milk neutralizes the acids and may even help with remineralization.
The next time you’re in a convenience store staring at the rows of sugary drinks in the refrigerated case, you may want to think twice. Although you enjoy the taste of these drinks, the effects they have on your teeth may require dental treatments like fillings or root canals.
Even if you’ve cut back or stopped drinking soda altogether, the best thing you can do to keep your teeth and mouth healthy is to visit us for your regular routine dental cleanings and exams. Call our office today to schedule an appointment with one of our dental professionals.