According to recent studies, nearly half the people in America consume soda on any given day. In fact, although soda is associated with numerous health problems, it is still one of the most widely consumed beverages on the planet. Diseases including kidney disease, heart disease, hypertension and an increased risk of type-two diabetes have long been associated with regular soda consumption, but your oral health is at risk too.
How Soda Consumption Affects Your Teeth
The high quantities of sugar and artificial sweeteners in most sodas weaken and dissolve tooth enamel and damage your teeth. However, sugar is only one part of the dynamic duo that makes soda so dangerous for your teeth. Most sodas are also highly acidic. Consuming highly acidic foods and drinks can also weaken tooth enamel and lead to cavities, tooth decay and, eventually, tooth loss.
Teeth are often covered by a layer of bacteria. These bacteria, commonly known as plaque, feed on the sugar you eat and drink. Bacteria metabolize the sugar and create acids as byproducts. This acid attacks your teeth and weakens the structure of your tooth. In fact, these acids continue to attack and weaken tooth enamel for nearly 20 minutes after the initial sip of soda. In addition, the bacteria can also irritate the gums, leading to gum disease. Over time, and especially when left untreated, gum disease weakens teeth and eventually causes them to fall out.
Many people believe that they can avoid the negative effects of consuming the sugar in regular soda by drinking diet soda, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Although diet soda does not contain the same types of sugars that can damage your teeth as regular soda does, most of them contain phosphoric and citric acid. This acid is still highly damaging to your teeth. The damage done to your teeth by regularly drinking diet soda is in fact very similar to the enamel erosion and decay caused by drinking regular soda.
Preventing Tooth Decay
The best way to protect your teeth from excessive decay is to avoid consuming sugary food and drinks. However, if you choose to indulge in an occasional glass of soda, there are some important things you should know about protecting your teeth.
- Use a straw so your teeth are less exposed to the sugar and acid in soda.
- Drink water after drinking or eating sugary substances to help dilute the sugars and rinse them out of your mouth.
- Avoid drinking sugary or acidic drinks right before you go to bed. Drinking soda before bed causes the liquid to pool in your mouth and coat your teeth with sugar and acid.
- Brush and floss your teeth regularly. Overall, this is the best strategy for protecting your pearly whites.
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Protecting Tooth Enamel
Enamel is the hard coating that covers the outer layer of your teeth. It protects your teeth from being damaged while you eat and drink and is thought to be the hardest mineral substance in the human body. Although it is incredibly strong, it can be worn down over time. Consuming foods that are acidic or contain high quantities of sugar can weaken and dissolve tooth enamel, leaving your teeth susceptible to cavities and decay.
To protect your enamel, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day. Fluoride toothpaste has also been shown to strengthen enamel and protect against daily acid attacks on your teeth.