Soft Drinks and Your Teeth
When was the last time you had a soft drink? Chances are you’ve had one pretty recently since studies indicate that 48% of Americans drink about 2.6 soft drinks a day. Soft drinks can be both delicious and refreshing, however they can negatively affect both your overall and oral health by contributing to conditions such as type-2 diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay, when consumed in excess. Even when not consumed in large amounts, soft drinks can still increase your risk of tooth decay.
One of the main reasons why soft drinks can increase the risk of tooth decay is because they are loaded with sugar. Since sugar feeds decay-causing bacteria, consuming large amounts of sugar can cause an increase in the amount of bacteria. These bacteria will then produce an acidic waste product that will damage the enamel and eventually lead to erosion. When the enamel is repetitively damaged, eventually a cavity will form.
Another main reason why soft drinks can increase the risk of tooth decay is because they also contain citric, phosphoric, or tartaric acids. On their own, these acids are damaging to the enamel, however they can cause even more damage when combined with the acidic waste products of decay-causing bacteria. Even sugar-free soft drinks still often contain these acids and soda is the worst culprit.
With that being said, many people still love soft drinks. Therefore, here are some tips on how to enjoy soft drinks while minimizing their damaging effects:
The best way to minimize the damage done by soft drinks is to minimize the amount you consume. Even if you don’t want to cut out soft drinks entirely, reducing your daily intake by drinking milk or water instead can be beneficial.
Use a Straw
Another way to minimize the amount of damage done by soft drinks is to use a straw. Using a straw allows the liquid to bypass the front teeth, as well as limits the amount of contact that acids and sugars have with your teeth.
Once you start drinking, your teeth are immediately being attacked by sugar and acid. The damaging effects will continue for about 20-30 minutes after you start drinking. Therefore, if you slowly sip your drink, you are prolonging the damage done to your teeth. Instead, it is advised to drink quicker in order to minimize the damage.
After you are done drinking, another way to minimize the damage is to rinse your mouth out with water or milk. Rinsing your mouth removes some of the acids and sugar from the surface of your teeth and helps to neutralize your saliva.
Visit Your Dentist
Finally, you will want to make sure that you schedule regular teeth cleanings every six months to ensure that excess bacteria is removed. By decreasing the amount of bacteria in your mouth, you will help to offset some of the damage done by soft drinks.
Dr. Speer prides himself on excellence in all aspects of dentistry. He stays up to date on the latest technologies by attending various continuing education courses throughout the year. He also enjoys volunteering his time and expertise at events, such as Portland Mission of Mercy. He is a member of the Clackamas County Dental Society, Oregon Dental Association, the American Dental Association, and the Academy of General Dentistry. He is also the former President of the Oregon Chapter of Delta Sigma Delta, an international Dental Fraternity.