Although daily brushing and flossing are the most important ways to maintain proper oral health, there are many things that we eat and drink that are bad for our teeth. Soda is a very common beverage choice nowadays, but too much pop in our daily diets can wreak detrimental effects on our teeth.
If you want to minimize your risk of cavities and tooth decay, Rhoades Family Dentistry recommends that you cut down on your soda intake. The effects of soda on your teeth can lead to excessive tooth erosion, as well as many other health problems, including weight gain, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Why Is Soda Bad for Your Teeth?
Soda contains two main ingredients that have a negative effect on your teeth—sugar and acid. Both play a huge role in the development of cavities and tooth erosion. Many darker-colored soft drinks, like cola, also stain your teeth over time and make them look more yellow.
Soda can also lead to other health problems like dry mouth and dehydration, which cause problems for teeth. When you’re dehydrated, your mouth produces less saliva. Salivation is key for removing bacteria and plaque in your mouth, especially after eating or drinking sugary and acidic foods.
Long periods without water or excess saliva will increase the length of time your teeth are exposed to the soda. A dry mouth also leads to other dental health problems like cavities. Your body’s natural ability to wash away harmful bacteria with saliva is interrupted when your mouth is dry and you’re dehydrated.
What Does Soda Do to Your Teeth?
There are many harmful effects of soda on your teeth. First, the high acidity in drinks like soda breaks down the enamel on your teeth. Your enamel is really important because it’s the protective top layer on your teeth. When the enamel gets damaged, the surface hardness of your teeth is reduced.
While juices and other sports drinks can damage your enamel in the same way, soda takes it a step further. Soda also damages the next layer of your teeth, called the dentin, and any composite fillings you may already have. Since the damage from soda runs deeper into your tooth, it’s easier for problems to occur.
Regular intake of soda can also lead to more serious problems like tooth decay and erosion. The sugar from soda also aids bacteria in growing, causing plaque to build up. Combined with poor oral hygiene, these dental issues can lead to more serious problems like larger cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease.
Preventing Tooth Damage from Soda
The effects of soda on your teeth can lead to some pretty serious damage. The obvious answer for preventing this is to stop drinking soda. However, for many people who enjoy soda, this may be challenging. If you want to prevent as much tooth damage as possible, the key is drinking soda in moderation.
Even drinking one soda a day can do significant damage to your teeth. Some soft drinks, like lighter sodas, may have a lower acidity content, but it’s still high enough to cause damage.
If you want to protect your teeth but still drink soda, here are some important tips to follow:
- Drink Soda Quickly: The longer it takes you to drink soda, the more damage it will do to your teeth. By drinking soda faster, the sugars and acids have less time to stay on your teeth and do damage. This should not be an excuse, however, to drink more soda.
- Use a Straw: Using a straw can help to keep damaging sugars and acids away from your teeth as you drink soda. You also shouldn’t hold the soda in your mouth for too long before swallowing to shorten the amount of time your teeth are exposed.
- Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once. You shouldn’t brush your teeth right after drinking soda, however. The friction from your toothbrush can actually worsen the damage and do more harm since your teeth were just attacked by acid.
- Drink Soda with Meals: Limiting soda intake to just a mealtime can prevent damage since your mouth produces more saliva while you’re eating. After your meal, immediately rinse your mouth with water to wash away sugars and acids from the soda.
- Take Calcium: Calcium supplements or foods high in calcium are great for building strong teeth and enamel.
- Try Soda Alternatives: Water, carbonated water, unsweetened tea, and plain milk are all healthier alternatives to drinking soda.
- Visit the Dentist Regularly: You should go to the dentist every six months or so to get your teeth cleaned. Your dentist can check for tooth decay, damaged enamel, tooth erosion, and cavities and provide any other preventative care necessary to maintain your dental health.
You don’t have to avoid soda completely to protect your teeth, but you should enjoy sugary pop in moderation. If you ever experience pain or sensitivity to heat or cold, it’s time to call the dentist, as this could be the sign of a cavity.