Did you know that research indicates the average American consumes around 2.6 soft drinks every day? When you consider the variety of soft drinks available at grocery stores and restaurants, it’s no surprise that people drink as many soft drinks as they do. However, have you ever wondered about how soft drinks affect your teeth? Unfortunately, soft drinks are not exactly the best thing for your teeth for two main reasons.
The first reason why soft drinks are not good for your teeth is because they contain high amounts of sugar. Consuming high amounts of sugar can increase bacterial populations inside your mouth since decay-causing bacteria feed on sugar. This basically means that the more sugar you drink, the more bacteria will be produced. Eventually as bacterial populations grow, this will cause your teeth to become more susceptible to tooth decay, as well as making your gums more likely to develop gum disease.
This is because decay-causing bacteria produce an acidic waste product that erodes, or wears down, your tooth enamel. When one area of your tooth is constantly being exposed to acid, this will eventually cause a cavity to form. This process unfortunately becomes more severe when coupled with the regular consumption of soft drinks, due to the acids found within them. That’s right, soft drinks contain one or more of the following acids: tartaric, citric, or phosphorus. Even sugar-free soft drinks often contain these acids, which can destroy tooth enamel.
While the best dental advice would be to completely avoid soft drinks, that is not a realistic goal for most people. Therefore, here are some tips on how to minimize the damage done by soft drinks:
Reduce the Amount of Soft Drinks You Consume
The next best thing to avoiding soft drinks altogether is to at least reduce the amount you consume. Ultimately, the less you consume, the smaller your chances are of developing tooth decay. Additionally, drinking milk or water in place of soft drinks is better for both your overall and oral health.
Use a Straw
It is also recommended to use a straw when drinking soft drinks so that the flow of liquid is controlled. Straws help to reduce the amount of contact that your teeth have with the harmful acids and sugars found in soft drinks. This is especially true when you consider that your front teeth often flooded while drinking. Even though there will still be some damage done, using a straw will reduce the amount of damage.
For starters, this does not mean that you need to gulp down your soft drink. However, it can be detrimental to slowly sip over a long period of time. This is because acids will start attacking your teeth as soon as you start drinking until about 20-30 minutes after you’ve stopped drinking. Therefore, taking longer to drink elongates the amount of time your teeth are being actively damaged by acids.
After finishing your soft drink of choice, you can minimize the acid damage by rinsing your mouth out using water or milk. Both water and milk will remove some of the acids and sugars from your teeth, will help neutralize your saliva, and can help strengthen your enamel.
Make a Dental Appointment
If you drink soft drinks, the best way to minimize the damage being done to your teeth is to schedule an appointment with your dentist every six months. During these appointments, your dentist will evaluate your oral health and clean excess bacteria off your teeth. Regular dental exams and cleanings are two great ways to help reduce your risk of tooth decay.
Dr. Quartano is a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry. He is also an active member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, American Dental Association, Northlake Dental Association, and has attained D.O.C.S. certification. Dr. Quartano has served as Committee Chair for the LDA Council on New Dentist since 2011. Dr. Q is also a member of Spear Faculty Club which limits its membership to just 1000 dentist worldwide. Since graduating from dental school Dr. Quartano has completed over 700 hours of post doctorate education in Implants, Oral surgery, Cosmetic dentistry, Endodontics, Invisalign, and Advanced Restorative techniques. Dr. Quartano has also completed Foundational and Core workshops at the Spear Center for Advanced Dental Education.