Picture your favorite drink. Odds are it’s either carbonated or contains lots of sugar. Now picture what your teeth would look like if you only drank that for the next five years. Believe it or not, most of us would have significant tooth decay, stained teeth or, in some cases, gum disease.
Why Sugar is a Threat to Oral Health
Despite the fact that tooth enamel is the hardest tissue the human body produces, it cannot repair itself because it is not a living tissue. When we eat or drink sugary foods, our teeth become victims of injustice. Sugar sticks to our teeth, becoming a feeding ground for bacteria.
Bacteria eat the sugar left on our teeth and deposit acid directly onto the enamel, causing erosion and even gum disease if left for long periods of time. Ever wonder why some seemingly healthy people have not so great teeth? Too many sugary drinks could be the answer.
Before you start ridding your fridge of carbonated and sugary drinks, let’s educate ourselves on a few things first.
The Effects of Carbonation
While sugar is often the scapegoat for the breakdown of enamel, acid is just as guilty. Citric, phosphoric, and carbonic are three types of acid frequently found in some of our favorite beverages. If you enjoy a light, citrus-flavored drink, citric acid is the main component. Most colas are made with phosphoric acid and any drink with an infamous fizz comes from carbonic acid.
So what about diet sodas with less sugar? Good question! While diet sodas may have lower sugar content, the acid found in them applies directly to the teeth. This increases the risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
Who is at Risk?
Children and people with braces are especially at risk for enamel erosion caused by soda or sugary drinks. In children, their enamel is still developing so it cannot defend against erosion. People with braces and a love for soda may have brackets for barriers, but often leave with stained teeth once the braces are taken off.
By now you might be turned off by your once favorite drink. Fear not. Your favorite sugary cocktail can still be enjoyed, just with a different approach.
While brushing your teeth 30 minutes after drinking sugary foods is ideal, not everyone has time for that. Try drinking water after soda to rinse away sugar residue and balance your oral pH levels. If you must eat or drink something with sugar in it, have it with a meal so that the food can brush away some of the sugar and acid left on your teeth.
We Can Help Too!
As much as the above suggestions are great tools in the fight against decay and erosion caused by soda, the best line of defense is always your dentist. For best results, schedule a visit every six months.
Our goal is to help maintain your healthy, beautiful smile!