Is it soda, pop, or coke? I never realized there was such a debate over what soft drinks are called around the country. This region of our country simply refers to any soft drink as “coke”. I’ m sure that Pepsi isn’t too happy about this, but whatever you call it, it all has the same effect on your teeth!
Soft drinks have two ingredients that are fundamentally harmful to your teeth: Acid and Sugar.
Acid? really? doesn’t taste acidic…
well it’s the carbonation. Carbonation or the ‘bubbles’ come from carbon dioxide under pressure in the can. when you pop the can open, the pressure is released (that satisfying sound), and the bubbles start effervescing. At this point the drink becomes acidic as what’s left in the can after it starts bubbling is carbonic acid and flavoring and water.
Why are acids bad on your teeth?
Simple: your teeth are made of minerals like calcium. When you expose your teeth to acids, the minerals in the teeth dissolve and the teeth weaken. leading to small holes or ‘cavities’.
So all I need to care about is acid? eat all the sugar I want?
Not so fast partner! Sugars are bad too but for a different reason. Everybody has bacteria in their mouth. Bacteria eat sugars. and like all living things they have to go to the bathroom when they are done eating. When the bad bacteria (Strep Mutans) have to go… acid comes out! So sugars in your mouth ultimately lead to acids which lead to weakened teeth which lead to cavities. Got it?
Well good thing I only drink diet soda or Gatorade all day. How come I still have cavities?
No loopholes my friends, soda is soda! or rather acid is acid! It is bubbly because of carbonation which ultimately means carbonic ACID. Being ‘without sugar’ is slightly better for your teeth but if you are drinking soft drinks in an ‘all-day sipping’ style, you are causing your teeth damage in continuous little bursts. Each sip has effects that last about 20 minutes and starts over with every sip of soda you take. so unless you are following up each coke sip with a water sip or have the most drool of anyone on the planet, the frequent sipping of coke / pop / or soda is damaging your teeth in a way that will probably need fillings some day.
Aside: Gatorade or sports drinks are just as bad… except it’s usually citric ACID combined with sugars.
But I love my diet Pepsi, what can I do?
Moderation! Here are the do’s and don’ts:
DO drink them with MEALS! Or drink them fast!
DO limit your consumption of soft drinks to no more than one 12oz can per day.
DO swish your mouth out after drinking to dilute the acid and sugar if brushing is not possible.
Do drink plenty of water. The sugar and caffeine in soft drinks can speed up dehydration so stay hydrated with the recommended 8 glasses of water a day.
DON’T sip soda for extended periods of time. (example: love that big gulp? sip ONE 168 ounce drink of mountain dew all day? well it’s the frequency of sipping that’s the dental decay issue. You want 168 ounces of mountain dew? no problem so long as you drink it during a meal or in less than 20 minutes. your waist band may not agree with 168 ounces of calories however. that’s a different blog article!)
DON’T drink soda after dinner or after 7 pm! terrible habit!
DON’T substitute soft drinks, sports drinks or fruit juice for meals.
By limiting your intake of carbonated, or acidic or sugary beverages, brushing and flossing twice a day, and visiting your dentist regularly, you will reduce your risk for tooth decay and improve and/or maintain your overall oral health.
Here is a table of drinks and their pH or acidity level. anything lower than 7 is acidic. a 6 acidity is 10 times more acidic than a 7 (water), a 3 acidity is 10,000 times more acidic than water! seriously! Even DIET COLA is a 3.4! Battery Acid is only 100 times less acidic than most soft drinks.
If you want more information on the effects different foods or drinks have on your teeth or you are searching for a dentist in the triangle area, give DurhamDDS a call! We offer a generous helping of dental services for patients of all ages. To set up an appointment call our office at 919-286-0779 or visit durhamdds.com for more information.