As you were growing up, you may have been cautioned by your dentist or parents against eating too many sweets as they would rot your teeth. Turns out, this is true, but drinking sweets has just as damaging an effect on teeth, especially soda. How does soda harm your teeth?
Sodas are extremely high in sugar, and don’t let the label fool you—high fructose corn syrup is just another form of it! In fact, this sugar is even more damaging to the body than regular sugar, as its sweetness is so concentrated that it throws off the way your body produces insulin. This sugar turns acidic in your mouth and can wear down tooth enamel over time. And yes, even diet sodas that don’t contain any sugar at all are just as damaging—the artificial sweeteners are acids in themselves. Kids are particularly at risk because their enamel is not yet fully formed.
The enamel plays a big role in the protection of your teeth, so when it begins to erode away, problems can arise, and cavities are more likely to happen. Once the enamel is damaged, it’s much easier for the sugar in soda to damage your teeth, and there’s plenty of that sugar to go around even in just one soda drink. This means that bacteria are given more of a free passage into your teeth, and not only can this free passage cause cavities, but it could also lead to tooth decay and gum inflammation. Your teeth may eventually, as your dentist and parents may have warned you, have to come out.
Another negative side effect of enamel getting worn off is that tooth sensitivity will increase. Your enamel protects the soft tissues of your tooth such as the nerves, but when the enamel is damaged, you’ll be more sensitive to hot and cold. The less enamel you have, the more sensitive you’re likely to be. Tooth sensitivity can hinder you from eating ice-cold drinks, ice cream, hot tea, or hot meals, and can be extremely painful. In addition to tooth sensitivity, your teeth are also more likely to be stained from your lack of enamel, appearing yellow, discolored, or translucent.
Brushing and flossing can help you manage your plaque, which, if built up over time, can cause tooth decay. But what happens when you’re drinking soda every day and not rinsing or brushing afterwards?
The acids (specifically phosphoric acid) and sugars in soda can cause damage within minutes of drinking it, not to mention all that sugar just sits on your teeth and increases your plaque. If you’re not brushing properly or brushing too hard, chances are that plaque is accumulating in places on your teeth and will eventually cause cavities, tooth decay, gingivitis, or periodontal disease.
Soda may taste good, but when you consider its harmful effects on your smile (not to mention your body), you may consider picking up another drink next time you’re thirsty. Seltzer water mixed with fruit juice, herbal sodas, or kombucha are all great healthy alternatives!