While an apple a day may keep the doctor away, a soda a day turns your teeth gray. Well not literally. However, excessive consumption of soda can cause tooth decay, which can lead to a pulp infection that can, in fact, discolor your teeth. Still, a Gallup poll found that 48% of Americans drink soda daily, with this number jumping to 56% of adults ages 18-34. Unfortunately, daily soda consumption can eventually lead to obesity, type-2 diabetes, and tooth decay.
Although soda is often classified as the main culprit behind these health issues, soft drinks like juice and sports drinks can also be hazardous when consumed regularly. This is because their ingredients are harmful to tooth enamel. Almost every soft drink contains varying amounts of these two ingredients:
Soft drinks are notorious for containing large amounts of sugar. The problem with this is that decay-causing bacteria in the mouth primarily feed on sugar. This means that bacterial populations in the mouth will proportionally increase with the amount of sugar consumed. Simply stated, drinking large amounts of sugar means that your mouth will have large amounts of decay-causing bacteria.
Unfortunately, sugar-free soft drinks are not much better for your oral health. Although they contain no sugar, these drinks contain higher concentrations of acids, which are also detrimental to your oral health.
Soft drinks, especially sodas, can also contain citric, phosphoric, or tartaric acids. These acids are capable of eroding the enamel and can cause irreversible damage when consumed in excess. Research has found that every sip of soda exposes your teeth to acid damage for approximately 20 minutes.
Not only that, but decay-causing bacteria also produce an acidic waste product that gets deposited on your teeth. Therefore, the more sugar they consume, the more acidic waste is deposited on the enamel. This means that your teeth are regularly being exposed to acid attacks that erode the enamel over time.
Unfortunately, these two ingredients can cause both enamel erosion and tooth decay. Oftentimes, the first step is erosion. Dental erosion can cause tooth sensitivity and it can also make your teeth more susceptible to chipping or cracking. As the enamel becomes thinner and weaker, a cavity is likely to form due to the accumulation of excess bacteria in a particular area.
Even though soft drinks can pose a threat to your oral health, it does not necessarily mean that you need to swear them off forever, although that couldn’t hurt. Instead, there are some guidelines you can follow to decrease your risk of tooth decay and dental erosion. These include:
- Minimize the amount consumed
- Use a straw to prevent contact with teeth
- Use water or milk as a chaser after drinking soda
- Wait approximately 20 minutes to brush your teeth to avoid damaging the enamel
- Keep up on your dental exams and teeth cleanings
Overall, soft drinks can pose a serious threat to your oral health when they are consumed in excess. While it would be best to eliminate them altogether, there are certain tactics that can be used to minimize the damage that soft drink ingredients cause. Following these guidelines can decrease the severity of enamel erosion and lower the bacterial populations. In turn, this reduces the likelihood of worn enamel and tooth decay. While you may eat an apple a day, don’t let soda turn your teeth gray.