While blogging a few days ago on my last entry regarding eating disorders (and hearing the news about “Mountain Dew Syndrome“) I was prompted to discuss how dietary influences affect teeth erosion, which is often overlooked until the detrimental damage has been done – and affects your life! Yes, all soft drinks (including regular and diet soda, lemonade) and even pickles and salad dressing are acidic, which can potentially cause erosion of your teeth: it’s like the process of creating frosted glass from acid etching.
Approximately two thirds of our body is composed of water, which needs to be continuously replenished. Our body signals us to take in liquid, and it’s up to us to decide which liquid is best for our body. All carbonated soft drinks will lead to dental erosion, but sodas containing citric or phosphoric acid are highly corrosive to teeth. Once the protective enamel layer is eroded (from the acid in a person’s diet), your teeth will become porous. Plaque and staining will set in easily, and your teeth will become much more prone to cavities and sensitivity.
pH (potential of hydrogen) is the unit of measure for any liquid’s acidity. The lower the pH, the higher the acidity of said liquid, and the more damage it will cause to your teeth. Pure water has a pH value of 7. Your mouth averages between 6.2 and 7 pH, with corrosive damage taking place when liquids are consumed below a pH of 5.5 – the average soda carries a pH level of 2.47 – 3.6. Gastric acid and battery acid have a pH of 1.
The typical American drinks over 50 gallons of acidic cola each year – far more than healthier liquids like fruit juice. On average, sodas are up to 10 times more damaging than fruit juice to your teeth’s enamel, according to a study by the Academy of General Dentistry, however the content of common phosphoric and citric acids found in soft drinks are not the only factor that contributes to enamel decay. The sugar, additive and organic acid content of these liquids can all dissolve tooth structure. The leaching effect of phosphoric acid can also weaken your bone. The impact of excess caffeine in soda can potentially raise your blood pressure, and also form habits causing soda addiction. Once a person stops drinking soda after building an addiction, you will suffer symptoms like headache and depression (withdrawal). Children who drink soda regularly are at a substantially higher risk over children who drink milk or water, a much healthier alternative, not only for the teeth but for the well being of the body! Preteens and adolescents, who have underdeveloped tooth enamel, are at an especially high risk and should avoid cola drinks at all costs.
So please, avoid eroding your teeth whenever possible! Things you can do to help your body include substituting soft drinks with water, milk or fruit and veggie sticks, drinking soda with a straw, drinking soda with meals instead of by itself, using fluoride treatment, as well as brushing and flossing soon after eating and drinking. Save your favorite carbonated beverage as an occasional treat – you will save your teeth, your body and your peace of mind.