We all know that drinking too much sweet sugary soda pop can cause tooth decay. Sodas should only be an occasional treat (like a cupcake or a candy bar), not your main source of hydration or caffeine. To get around this issue and still enjoy a sweet drink, many people turn to sugar-free varieties. The only problem is that sugar-free sodas can cause tooth decay too!
Sodas sweetened with real sugar or high fructose corn syrup are bad for your teeth because they feed bacteria. This bacteria processes the sugar and creates acids, which sit on your teeth in the form of plaque and cause dental erosion.
Sugar-free sodas don’t feed decay-causing bacteria. They skip that step altogether. Many sugar-free sodas are acidic on their own, meaning the soda itself can cause dental erosion. Tooth decay occurs when dental erosion eats away at the hard protective outer layer of teeth, leaving the softer dentin underneath exposed. This is how cavities eventually form.
While diet sodas can be a great choice when it comes to reducing the amount of sugar or calories you consume, it’s good to keep in mind that there’s no “easy way out” when it comes to good dietary choices. In other words, soda pop of any kind should only be consumed in moderation (including “energy drink” varieties). Nearly any dentist you ask will agree that a balanced diet that includes a minimal amount of sugar, processed foods, and acidic foods is the best way to maintain your oral health. Think of your balanced diet as the best possible kind of dental insurance (and the cheapest)!
We know that a soda habit can be hard to kick. Often it’s the sensation of cold, crisp bubbles that makes soda hardest to give up. Believe it or not, many people find they get the same satisfaction and refreshing sensation from plain carbonated water. Just keep in mind that fizzy water contains carbon dioxide, which turns into carbonic acid in your mouth, so it’s more acidic that still water and therefore more risky for your tooth enamel. When you’re seeking refreshment, regular water is always your best choice!
If you have any questions or concerns about how your favorite drinks affect your teeth, please feel free to start a conversation with the dentist or the dental hygienist. We’d be happy to share our advice!