You may not realize this, but sodas and energy drinks are actually a major cause of tooth decay and tooth problems. While we all love our sodas, it is important to know about how these fizzy drinks really affect your oral health, as well as how to mitigate potential tooth damage. In this article, we will discuss the various ways soda and energy drinks harm your teeth, as well as how to fix this problem and avoid jeopardizing your dental health.
Sugar’s Not the Only Problem
While we all (hopefully) know that sugar causes tooth decay and damage, acid does too. There is a lot of citric acid in drinks, as well as phosphoric acid. Citric acid is a preservative. Citric acid is an organic acid that is naturally found in citrus fruits. This acid, while weak, can do damage when consumed even in moderate qualities. Phosphoric acid is the reason that soda is fizzy and sharp. It is put into drinks in order to mitigate the mold and bacteria that could be formed from the sugariness.
Acid’s Effect on the Tooth
While these acids serve as preservatives, they also strip the enamel from your teeth. Tooth enamel is one of the major tissues that make up the tooth. Enamel is the outer covering of your teeth, and while it is a thin covering, it is also the hardest tissue in your entire body. Enamel is translucent, which is why you can still see the dentin under the teeth that make your teeth white. Enamel plays a vital role in protecting your teeth, and the acid contained in soda breaks it down. Unfortunately, this breakdown can, in fact, be irrevocable. Once enamel is gone, the tooth is left wide open for cavities. 30-50% of teens drink energy drinks, and acid is especially present in those. Losing your tooth enamel at such a young age can be very devastating to come back from.
What a Groundbreaking Study Has Shown
A study published by the Academy of General Dentistry took a closer look at the effects of acid on the corrosion of tooth enamel. Researchers looked at a variety of factors: pH levels, fluoride, and acidity of energy and sports drinks. The researchers measured the effect on molars in a petri dish and found that the sugar in sports drinks damages enamel, but the acidity in energy drinks does even more corrosive damage than the sugary sports drinks. The test was repeated four times a day for five days, and in that short period, the damage was extensive. The amount of citric acid isn’t listed on drinks, and although the American Beverage Association claims that citric acid isn’t harmful, dentists have another opinion. Citric acid most likely does cause enamel problems for your teeth, and it should be avoided. This study was equally focused on dental erosion due to the abuse of illicit substances — a comparison that might further help drive these points home for some habitual soda drinkers.
How to Mitigate This Damage
Not drinking soda or energy drinks would be the best option, but because we all love our drinks, that could be a little unrealistic. A way to mitigate the damage is to drink through a straw. This minimizes the contact that the acid has with your teeth. In addition, rinse your mouth out with water after you drink a soda in order to wash out the excess sugars that could be sitting there forming plaque. Use toothpaste and mouthwash that contains fluoride for a more thorough clean.
Citric and phosphoric acid found in energy drinks harms the enamel in your mouth. Lowering your consumption of these is not only good for your teeth, but for your overall health. Mitigating the effects by using a straw, rinsing out your mouth, and diligently maintaining your oral hygiene are other ways to soften the blow that acid has on your enamel.