What soda does to your teeth
As The New York Times reported, soda sales in the U.S. have slowly plummeted over the last 25 years, thanks in part to soda taxes in several U.S. cities. However, there's no denying that many Americans still love drinking soda. A 2012 Gallup poll found that 48 percent of Americans drink soda every day, with an average of around 2.6 glasses. Perhaps those soda devotees simply don't know the impact soda has on their health, most notably their teeth. Are you one of the millions of Americans still consuming soda? Read the following primer to see just what effects soda has on otherwise healthy teeth:
"Over 48% of Americans still drink soda each day."
How does soda damage teeth?
So, just what makes soda so bad for your teeth? As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, it's the sheer amount of acids in every soft drink. Chemicals like citric acid and phosphate break down tooth enamel, and once that's gone, your teeth are then vulnerable to chemicals that can destroy and decay teeth. That includes sugar, and the average soft drink contains between 42 and 45 grams per can, as the Chronicle pointed out. The absence of enamel has a number of effects on your overall oral hygiene. Not only do teeth look less pristine and pearly white, but you're also likely to suffer more tooth sensitivity, especially to heat and cold, frequent pain and general discomfort.
Just how damaging is soda?
To answer that question, a group of scientists examined the teeth of one regular soda drinker and published their results in a May 2009 edition of the Journal of Zhejiang University Science. The 25-year-old subject drank soda for seven years, usually around half a liter per day, though at one point went up to 1.5 liters in a single day. The research team found several cavities in his canines and incisors, plus lesions on both his molars and premolars. Though the subject didn't complain of any pain - only minor bleeding on occasion - he also had several teeth that had become impacted. Eventually, because of gingival build-up around several lesions, the patient underwent a gingivectomy, or an excision of the gums.
What can be done to minimize soda's influence?
The only surefire way to prevent soda-related tooth damage is to never drink another glass again. However, if you must still enjoy soda, the Wisconsin Dental Association laid out some helpful tips to keep in mind. For one, limit your soda intake to no more than 12 ounces per day. Any time you drink soda, drink a glass of water immediately after as this will help dilute the acid. A straw might also be a good idea, as it can limit some of your teeth's exposure to soda. However, nothing beats a through brushing after every soda - this is the most effective way to remove sugar and acid from your teeth. If you're not aware of how else to better protect your teeth, you should book an appointment with your dentist to discuss factors like better nutrition and other proper oral hygiene behaviors.