Half of all American drink a sugary drink every single day. The CDC tells us that males are more inclined to do so than females, that adolescent boys drink the most and absorb around 273 calories from them. Males in their 20s and 30s get about 252 calories.
It’s reasonably common knowledge that drinking soda is linked to Type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and obesity, also that there’s a connection to dental problems. Still, here at Loop Perio, we’ve discovered that not all of our Chicago area patients fully comprehend the effect soda consumption can have on their oral health.
Drinking dark-colored soda can discolor your teeth. If you’ve heard the phrases “Coca Cola smile” or “Pepsi smile,” this is what they refer to. But although this detracts from your appearance, drinking soda can have more serious consequences for your oral health.
Oral Health, Soda, Bacteria, and Acid
The sugar in regular soda interacts with the bacteria in your mouth to form acid, and unfortunately, even if you choose sugar-free soda, you won’t avoid acid. Sugar-free soda contains its own acid.
The acid isn’t strong enough to produce an immediate, dramatic effect like some poor victim dissolving away in a horror movie, but over time, it does indeed have an effect. Once it gets in your mouth, the acid attacks teeth and continues to do so for around 20 minutes, reducing the hardness of the tooth enamel, the outer protective layer of a tooth. Fruit juice and sports drinks do this too, but they stop with the enamel. The acid in soda, on the other hand, can also attack the next layer, called dentin, as well as composite fillings.
Oral Health, Soda, Tooth Erosion, and Cavities
Eventually this recurring acid bath can erode the substance of a tooth, and tooth erosion promotes the development of cavities, especially when the soda drinker has poor oral hygiene overall.
All that makes a strong case for giving up soda, but may of us enjoy it too much to do that. So here are some tips on how to drink it and not suffer adverse consequences to your oral health.
How to Drink Soda and Still Maintain Your Oral Health
Drink quickly. You don’t have to chug, but the more time you take, the more time acid has to attack your teeth.
Drink moderately. The more soda you consume over the course of the day, the more acid you’re putting in your mouth.
Drink through a straw. A straw keeps some of the acid and sugar away from your teeth.
After you finish the soda, rinse your mouth with water. This will help to get rid of sugars and acids that still remain in the mouth.
Brush, but not right away. Because you drank the soda and gave the acid a chance to attack your tooth enamel, it’s softer than normal, soft enough that the rubbing of toothbrush bristles against it could actually produce damage. Wait half an hour to an hour and then brush.
Don’t drink soda before bedtime. This gives the sugar and acid all night to work on your teeth. The sugar’s apt to keep you awake, too.
Go with soda that has a lower acid content. Coke and Pepsi are two of the most acidic, Gatorade and Dr. Pepper are almost as bad, and Diet Coke, Diet Dr. Pepper, and Sprite are three of he least acidic (although they still have plenty.)
Get professional cleanings and checkups twice a year (or even oftener if your dentist recommends it.) The dentist will spot problems early and address them when they’re still easy to treat.
If you live in the Chicago area and are in need of a cleaning and checkup, or of care for a cavity or any other dental issue, we at Loop Perio would be happy to help you. We invite you to phone us at (312) 782-4068 and schedule an appointment.