Soda is pervasive. Almost everyone drinks it. 50–80 percent of adolescents drink at least one soda per day. Nearly half of Americans of all ages drink soda on a daily basis. It’s a bad habit to follow, especially if you’re concerned about your dental health (and you should be, unless you want to lose your teeth). That’s because soda rots your teeth on two fronts: not only is it heavily sugared, it also makes use of an acid capable of rotting the enamel on your teeth, eliminating that layer of protection that otherwise keeps each tooth safe from external threats.
If you don’t look out for your oral health, you may find yourself at our La Jolla, San Diego practice, having a dental implant placed. And that’s okay! Dental implants are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth and they are considered to be the premier solution to tooth loss. If you are already missing teeth or if you suffer from extensive tooth decay, whether from soda consumption or something else, dental implants may be the ideal treatment for you.
Corrosive Properties of Soda
Soda has become a staple food of the developed world — a troubling trend, indeed. The industry is worth an estimated $75 billion and the rise of its consumption correlates with the greater prevalence of obesity and diabetes. While we should all have the right to choose what we want to eat, the truth is that if people were more educated about the horrible effects of soda they would probably more strongly consider avoiding it. The good news is, with the recent increase in anti-soda advocacy, its consumption has started to fall and more-and-more people are seeking to avoid it.
So, what exactly is so unhealthy about soda? As far as your smile is concerned, there are two main concerns you should keep in mind.
First, soda can contain a lot of sugar. When you drink soda, much it inevitably gets plastered on your teeth. This sugar attracts bacteria which consume it, break it down, and turn it into an acid. This acid, in turn, strips your teeth from essential minerals that give them strength. First starting with your enamel, and then seeping through to internal layers of tissue, the demineralization of your teeth will lead to the gradual decay of affected teeth. This is what you know as a cavity, also called tooth decay or dental caries. If soda on its own was bad enough, decay spreads and can worsen on its own if not treated as soon as possible.
Second, soda uses an acid to produce carbonation. This acid, on its own, is bad for your teeth, having a similar effect to that of the acid produced by harmful bacteria in your mouth. The acid takes an immediate toll on your smile — with every sip, your teeth suffer from a 20–30 minute “acid attack.” This will gradually wear down your enamel, eliminating that layer of protection and subjecting your teeth from further damage from this and other sources.
So, yes, soda is particularly bad for your teeth. In fact, it gets worse. If you drink soda soon before brushing your teeth, the effects of the “acid attack” can be worse still, since you might be actively pushing the acid into the tissues it’s damaging. The simple solution: cut down on your soda consumption.
Minimizing Damage from Soda Consumption
There is no true alternative to simply not drinking soda. But, quitting soda can be a difficult endeavor. In the short-run, set a goal for yourself and try to slowly transition to an alternative (ideally, water). Soon enough, you may find yourself to be completely free from soda’s dangerous hold. Until that happens, here is some advice for at least minimizing the damage soda can do:
- Drink any and all soda through a straw. That way, at least you’re not directly splashing and saturating your teeth in the acidic substance.
- The faster you drink your can of soda, the better. You’re not doing yourself any favors by babysitting it. If you take one sip now and another sip in twenty minutes, that’s two “acid attacks” you’re subjecting your teeth to.
- You can partially mitigate the negative effects of soda by drinking water immediately after. By swishing some water around your mouth, you can wash away much of the acidic, sugary stuff from your teeth.
However, as aforementioned, the best solution is to simply quit.
Safeguard Your Health, Schedule Your Consultation
Are you a soda connoisseur? While difficult to make a drastic change in your life, it’s nevertheless highly recommended that you start thinking about reducing the amount of soda you drink. Until you quit, make sure to visit the dentist often — twice a year, minimum —, to help you keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay. Put your oral wellbeing in good hands and contact our La Jolla practice to schedule your one-on-one consultation with Dr. Lockwood.