Whether you call it soda, pop, or Coke, sweetened carbonated beverages are enjoyed by people all over the world. There is almost nothing as refreshing as a fizzy drink whether drank with a meal or enjoyed alone. Getting together for a soda is also a social occasion for many people. However, soda comes with a variety of health risks, most especially dental risks. While soda is an enjoyable beverage, research shows that it is extremely bad for your teeth.
Why Is Soda Bad for Your Teeth?
There are several reasons why dentists feel that soda is bad for your teeth. First, most sodas have a whole lot of tooth decaying sugar. Sugar feeds the bacteria that live in your mouth and cause cavities. Even with regular brushing and good dental care, the increase in these bacteria will affect your teeth over time.
Second, sugar has a very low, or acidic, pH. Because of high amounts of citric acid, even in diet sodas, drinking a soda is like bathing your teeth in battery acid. This acid is damaging to your teeth, especially the enamel. Because enamel is important in protecting your teeth from other damage, harming this enamel can lead to a wide variety of other dental problems.
The Effect of Soda on Your Teeth
While you may not notice a difference in your teeth immediately after drinking a soda, there is a noticeable change in dental health over time. Dentists often can tell immediately whether a person drinks soda on a regular basis because it causes such dramatic damage. Over time, the acidic pH and bacterial growth will wear down your enamel. This leads to increased numbers of cavities as well as permanent staining and sensitive teeth.
Sensitive teeth can be an immense problem for regular soda drinkers. People may feel pain when they eat or drink hot and cold things, or increased in normal daily activities. They may even experience bleeding during brushing and flossing if their dental issues begin to affect their gums and other tissue. Over time, many soda drinkers will notice that they get more toothaches or strange sensations like numbness and tingling; their teeth may even begin to chip and crack as the damage becomes more severe.
How to Minimize Your Risk
There are several ways to cut down your risk of developing dental problems from drinking soda. First, if you cannot quit drinking soda all together, cut back on how much you drink. Even cutting back a small amount can have a huge positive effect on your dental health. Second, drink soda with a straw when possible. This will limit the amount of time that the acids and sugars in the drink actually contact your teeth and enamel.
What you do after you drink soda can also cut back substantially on your risk. Many people assume that brushing their teeth after drinking soda will help to prevent damage, but this is actually bad for your teeth. The acids in soda soften your tooth enamel so that you can damage your enamel immensely with a toothbrush. Enamel becomes hard again in a short time, which is why you should not brush your teeth right away. Instead, rinse your mouth with water immediately after drinking soda to remove residual sugar and acid. Brush your teeth later, after at least an hour has passed.
Regular dental hygiene can also prevent damage from drinking soda. Whenever you brush, use a toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride strengthens your tooth enamel while helping to kill bacteria that cause cavities. Be sure to brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth as strong as possible.
Alternatives to Soda
There are a few alternatives to soda, but if you prefer drinking a carbonated beverage, consider drinking sparkling water instead. This fizzy treat has all the carbonation of soda with no sugar or citric acid. Sparkling water, also called soda water, has 100 times less acid than regular soda, making it a healthy alternative to soda. In addition, you can flavor sparkling water with natural, healthy ingredients to give it the desired flavor and sweetness.
Root beer, while still damaging, is less so than cola-flavored sodas due to lower acid and thus a lower impact on your dental enamel. Water is also a very healthy alternative beverage with only positive health effects.
Choosing to have soda only occasionally, and rinsing your mouth with water when you’re finished can save you a lot of pain and dental work without forcing you to give it up altogether.