We’ve all heard it before: “brush and floss every night, and stay away from sodas!” These are some of the many lectures that everyone got when they go to the dentist as a kid, and most didn’t pay too much attention. I know I didn’t! Upon further examination of what some popular sodas can really do to your teeth, however, maybe it’s time to think about changing up your drink of choice.
First, it’s important to realize that the root of the problem isn’t necessarily sugar; instead, the major problem is acid. Dr. David Katz, the director of the Yale Prevention Center, stated that “bacteria convert sugar to acid, and it’s the acid bath that damages enamel, not the sugar directly.” Essentially he is saying that drinks that are already very acidic are much worse for your teeth, so let’s take a look at a study on how soda affects tooth decay.
A controlled experiment on sodas and dental erosion was preformed at the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine by Dr. Kenton Ross and Poonam Jain. They measured the pH of 20 popular sodas (both regular and diet) and placed human enamel slices into the soft drinks for 48 hours after weighing the enamel. When the results came in, she found the teeth put in “Coke/Pepsi, RC Cola, Squirt, Surge, 7-up, and Diet 7-up lost up to 5% of their weight.” The other thirteen sodas also lost weight, but were all under 5%.
It’s not very realistic for an everyday setting that your teeth will be submerged in soda for 48 hours, but we can still see that there is a correlation between soda and tooth decay. There are ways to get around the tooth decay while still drinking soda, however. Dr. Ross says that root beer, although very sugary, is the least damaging soft drink because it does not have phosphoric and citric acids that harm teeth. Dr. Ross also says that drinking sodas with a straw will help make tooth decay minimal by limiting the contact between the soda and your teeth. It’s important to be aware of what’s good and bad for your teeth; after all, you only get one set!
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