Soft drinks are a regular part of many people’s days. In fact, a Gallup poll found that 48% of Americans drink soda every day and averaged about 2.6 glasses. It was also found that 56% of young adults ages 18-34 drink soda daily. Unfortunately regular consumption of soda and other soft drinks can cause a variety of health issues, such as obesity and type-2 diabetes. Not only do soft drinks pose a threat to your overall health, but they also threaten your oral health as well.
The majority of soft drinks contain copious amounts of sugars. These sugars are then consumed by the bacteria in your mouth, which causes two things to happen. First, the bacteria will produce an acidic waste product that can damage your enamel. Secondly, feeding bacteria allows them to survive, thrive, and reproduce, meaning that they will produce more bacteria. Unfortunately, every sip of a soft drink containing sugar initiates an acid attack that lasts for 20 minutes. Therefore, depending on how often you consume soft drinks, you may be exposing your teeth to constant acid attacks.
Not only do soft drinks contain sugars, but certain sodas contain citric and phosphoric acid. This means that you are exposing your teeth to both acid and sugars that are processed into acid. As a result, one of two things can happen:
The first thing that can happen is dental erosion. Enamel erosion occurs when the acids in soft drinks cause the enamel to demineralize and wear down. The more acid exposure, the thinner the enamel will become over time. Sodas are a common cause or erosion, but sports drinks and fruit juices have also been known to erode enamel.
When the enamel is weakened, your teeth are more susceptible to developing cavities. In fact, as the bacteria continue to reproduce and congregate in a certain area, a concentration of acid waste products is likely to cause a cavity to form. Soda is a primary contributor to cavities because of its acid and sugar content.
At this point, you may be wondering about sugar-free soft drinks. Surely, those are good for your teeth, right? They are slightly better because they don’t contain sugar, however sugar-free soft drinks still pose a threat to your oral health. This is because even though things like diet sodas don’t contain sugar, they still contain a similar acid content to regular sodas. Unfortunately, sports drinks, pure orange juice, and wine all contain enough acid to raise the pH level and be potentially harmful.
However, this does not necessarily mean that you have to eliminate soft drinks from your diet altogether, although it probably would be much better for you if you did. There are steps you can take to protect your teeth while enjoying your favorite soft drinks. The first step is to practice moderation and limit the amount of soft drinks you consume. Next, using a straw can help avoid contact with your teeth. Finally, using milk or water as a chaser can help decrease acidity levels.
Overall, soft drinks pose an unfortunate risk to your oral health as a result of their high sugar and acid content. The regular consumption of soft drinks can cause your enamel to erode over time and can even lead to the development of dental cavities. In order to prevent these things from happening, it is important to limit the amount of soft drinks you consume and take necessary steps to reduce the risk to your oral health.
Dr. Pasha Javaheri Saatchi attended Boston University School of Dental Medicine for four years, ultimately landing him back in New York City for his one-year residency at Staten Island University Hospital. Pasha’s office also has quite an interesting history, opening in 1960 with Dr. Felder, then being bought out in 1995 by Dr. Zomick, and finally being established as Pasha Dental in 2010. Pasha is proud to say he still sees some of Dr. Felder’s patients to this day and has even treated four generations of the same family!