We all know that candy and sweets are bad for our teeth, but we rarely think about our drinks as a cause of tooth decay.
Soft drinks are no longer an occasional treat. They have become a daily habit for a growing number of people. A steady diet of soft drinks, energy drinks, and carbonated beverages is a leading cause of tooth decay – and we see it day in and day out in our office. Many of our patients don’t even realize that the drinks they are consuming are so harmful to their teeth.
SUGAR and ACID are the 2 biggest culprits. The sugar in these drinks combines with bacteria in your mouth to form acid, and the acid weakens tooth enamel. Each acid attack lasts about 20 minutes, and this time starts over with every sip. Acid in soft drinks, whether they contain sugar or not, is the primary cause of weakening tooth enamel. “Diet” and “sugar-free” soft drinks may sound better for your teeth, but these drinks contain acid of their own.
Acid content is measured on the pH scale. Beverages with a pH of less than 4.0 are potentially damaging to the dentition. For example, most juices are around 3.0, Powerade is at 2.8, and Coke is 2.7 – not to mention how much sugar these drinks contain! Would you believe that even certain bottled waters are more acidic than others? Dasani falls at a 5.0 and Aquafina is 6.1, which means they are more acidic than pure water which is at a neutral pH of 7.
This is a great article posted by the ADA that talks about this topic and lists the pH of common beverages:
How can you reduce your chance of tooth decay?
- Drink soft drinks, energy drinks, and carbonated beverages ONLY in moderation
- Don’t sip on drinks for extended periods of time – this prolongs the sugar and acid attacks on your teeth
- After drinking, brush your teeth OR if you don’t have access to brush immediately, swish your mouth out with water to dilute the sugar
- Drink water instead – it has no sugar, no acid, and no calories!
- Get regular checkups and cleanings to remove bacteria buildup and use a fluoride toothpaste to strengthen and protect your teeth