After every dentist visit as a child, you likely heard, “keep the sweets and soda to a minimum.” Even though you’ve heard the advice for years, have you ever wondered why it’s so important? There is a very strong link between soda consumption and tooth decay, which of course, explains your dentist’s persistent advice.
The sugars from soda react with bacteria in your mouth to form acid, which attacks your teeth. Each sip of soda causes an acidic reaction that lasts for about 20 minutes. This acidic reaction damages your enamel and leads to tooth decay, especially if you’re an all day soda sipper.
Here’s where things get painful. Tooth decay is the damage of enamel, the hard outermost layer of your teeth. When the tooth begins to decay, cavities form and gums recede, which increases the risk of gum disease, tooth root decay, and painful tooth sensitivity. Sugary beverages like sports drinks only damage the top layer of enamel; soda also wears away at the dentin layer beneath the enamel, increasing the chance of these unfortunate ailments.
Cavities from tooth decay are nearly inevitable in people who drink soda regularly, especially when poor hygiene is practiced. Young children and teens are most at risk, as their enamel hasn’t fully developed yet. It is incredibly important to minimize the risk of tooth decay in children and teens to prevent long-term irreparable damage.
It’s very evident that soda does terrible things to your teeth, but that’s no reason to give up on your oral health. You can take a variety of precautions to prevent tooth decay – the most obvious being to skip the soda altogether.
If you can’t shake the sugary drinks, try to swap some of your soda intake with milk, water, or 100 % fruit juice instead. Try drinking soda through a straw, and do it quickly. The longer soda is in your mouth, the more acidic chemical reactions take place. After you’ve finished your soda, wait at least half an hour to brush your teeth, as the acids will leave your teeth vulnerable and cause tooth brushing to be damaging.
Of course these steps are best used in combination with excellent oral hygiene. Consistent teeth brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash with fluoride can help strengthen your enamel. Your dentist can even apply a fluoride treatment to reverse and prevent early tooth decay.
Avoiding soda, practicing good oral hygiene, and regular visits to the dentist can keep your teeth safe from the damaging effects of soda. Next time you reach for the carbonated beverage, consider if discoloring and damaging your teeth is worth the sugary drink.