Soda is an extremely popular drink in the U.S. that comes in countless varieties. Americans drink soda in cans, bottles, and giant styrofoam cups from the convenience store. Most people know that soda is bad for your teeth, but just how bad is it? It may actually be twice as bad as you may think. Soda increases the risk for cavities by contributing to two important parts of the cavity process. Here’s what you need to know.
Soda is Full of Sugar
Bacteria in dental plaque are responsible for causing cavities, and sugar contributes to the process because they feed the bacteria. As bacteria “eat” the sugar, they produce acid, and it is this acid that weakens and dissolves tooth enamel.
The more sugar you ingest, the more you are feeding the bacteria, and the more acid they can produce. Soda is particularly dangerous because many people tend to sip on it throughout the day. This provides cavity-causing bacteria with a continual source of fuel, allowing them to cause continual damage to the teeth.
Soda is Highly Acidic
We mentioned that the cavity process involves feeding the bacteria sugar with which they make acid. This acid makes enamel weak enough for bacteria to penetrate. Our body naturally defends the cavity process by neutralizing the acid as much as possible. Saliva is alkaline in pH and counteracts these acids. Overall, the inside of the mouth should be neutral or alkaline.
When you drink sodas, their low pH—anywhere from 2.7-4.5 on the pH scale—drastically reduces the pH inside your mouth. The stronger the acid, the more difficult it is for your mouth to return to a neutral pH and stay healthy.
In an acidic environment, cavity-causing bacteria thrive. When the pH inside the mouth is already low, it means that the bacteria have to produce much less acid in order to penetrate the enamel. Basically, when you drink sodas throughout the day, you do half of the bacteria’s work for them. This is why even diet sodas or “zero” sodas are bad for your teeth!
How to Avoid Damage from Soda
We know that many people are unwilling to give up their sodas. Fortunately, you can minimize the damage sodas cause on the teeth by following a few important steps:
1. Drink your soda with a meal.
When we eat a meal, our body produces its highest amounts of saliva to help digest the food. This saliva can counteract any effect of the sugars and acids in soda. This is the time during which soda can cause the least damage to your teeth. So, try to save your soda for mealtimes.
2. Drink quickly, and rinse your mouth with plain water afterward.
We mentioned earlier that sipping on soda throughout the day is dangerous for the teeth because it keeps the pH low. When you do enjoy a soda outside of mealtime, drink it quickly, and follow it with some plain water (not sparkling). The water will help to quickly neutralize the pH in your mouth, reducing the risk of damage.
3. Chew sugar-free gum after enjoying a soda.
Chewing sugar-free gum stimulates the production of more saliva. So if you drink a soda between meals, you can quickly counteract it by chewing gum. However, it must be sugar-free.
4. Practice great oral hygiene at home.
Because the cavity-causing bacteria live in dental plaque, you can fight these bacteria by removing the dental plaque. Your oral hygiene routine must be consistent and effective. Plaque builds up every single day, so you must brush and floss with the right technique daily. Removing plaque removes the bacteria, reducing the risk for damage.
5. See your dentist regularly and follow recommendations for preventive care.
Your dentist will evaluate your risk for cavities and make recommendations for specific preventive actions you can take. If you have a high cavity risk and drink sodas, you should consider having your dentist apply professional fluoride treatments at each professional teeth cleaning. Fluoride hardens enamel after attacks by cavities causing bacteria and making it stronger in order to resist future attacks. Ask your dentist if you could benefit from a professional fluoride treatment.
More Questions about Drinks that Damage Your Teeth? Contact Rockland Dental
Call Rockland Dental Specialists and schedule a visit with one of our dental experts. We can answer any questions you have about the cavity process and habits that you have which might contribute to it. Call us at (845) 259-2500 or complete our online contact form today!