You’ve heard time and again about how bad sugary soft drinks are for your teeth. Too much sugar, combined with a susceptible tooth, bacteria growth and a poor saliva output creates an environment that is ripe for a cavity to develop.
There is an extraordinary amount of sugar in non-diet soda:
- A 12-oz can has 10 teaspoons of sugar
- A 20-oz can has 17 teaspoons of sugar
- A 64-oz “Big Gulp” has a whopping 52 teaspoons! No wonder New York tried to ban them!
(Just FYI, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily sugar intake to 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.)
OK, so you may be thinking that’s all fine and dandy, because you don’t drink regular soda any way. You drink diet soda all the time, so your teeth are safe, right?
See, the sugar in soda is not the only ingredient that’s hard on tooth enamel — the acid is, too. And while diet soda eliminates the sugar, it does NOT eliminate the acid.
Phosphoric acid and citric acid, which are found in many diet sodas, promote carbonation (the fizz), but it also erodes the tooth enamel. And tooth enamel is the main barrier that our teeth have against decay.
And here’s the really scary thing. A report recently published in the journal General Dentistry found that a woman in her 30s who drank two liters of diet soda every day for three to five years had teeth erosion similar to that found in a 29-year-old addicted to methamphetamines and a 51-year-old who was a long-time crack cocaine user. (Meth and crack are also highly acidic.)
The woman in the study did admit that she had not been to the dentist in years.
It’s probably not necessary to avoid all soda all the time, but be aware that regular soda is highly sugary and acidic, and diet soda is highly acidic. To help protect your teeth:
- Limit soda consumption to one 8-oz or 12-oz can per day.
- Select cans over resealable bottles.
- Try drinking through a straw positioned toward the back of the mouth.
- Rinse with water after drinking soda.
- Brush teeth after drinking soda, and brush teeth at least twice a day.
- Chew gum with xylitol to increase saliva production.