Soda is well known for the mess of health problems that it can cause, including rapid tooth decay. Many health-conscious people avoid these drinks, indulging instead in flavored sparkling water, fruit juice, and diet sodas. These drinks may seem healthier and better for your teeth, but they cause about the same amount of damage as soda.
Soda, the Destroyer
For the sake of comparison, consider the reasons that soda is bad for your teeth. Sugar content is one of the big reasons. Bacteria on the surface of your teeth eat the sugar in these drinks and produce an acid secretion that eats into your teeth. One 20oz bottle of soda contains between 39 grams and 80 grams of sugar, depending on the brand. A sugar cube contains about 2.3 grams of sugar, but you probably wouldn’t eat 17 sugar cubes in one sitting!
On top of the sugar, soda has a high acid content. The enamel on your teeth starts to erode at a pH of 5.5. Anything with a lower pH has a higher acid content that will damage enamel. Most soda has an average pH between 2.5 and 3.9, again depending on what soda you are drinking.
Just Because it’s Fruit Doesn’t Make it Better
Now that you’ve seen the sugar and pH of soda, compare it with the alternative beverages. Many people choose fruit juice because fruit is a healthy food choice, so it is reasonable to assume that the juice is also healthy. The average 12oz bottle of orange juice contains 39 grams of sugar, apple juice can contain 42 grams, and the average grape juice contains a whopping 60 grams. Each of these juices has a low pH as well, averaging between 3.1 and 3.5 for most juice types. These numbers show that their acid and sugar content are not much different than the soda they replace.
Flavored Sparkling Water is Not Water
A popular carbonated alternative to soda is flavored sparkling water, which is generally healthier than soda. You need to be careful when choosing your sparkling water, however. Most flavored sparkling waters have sugar added to them. The amount varies widely from brand to brand, so be sure to read the health information label on the side. Flavored sparkling water also has a low pH, ranging between 2.7 and 3.4, which is comparable to that of soda.
Diet Soda Doesn’t Contain Sugar
Diet soda is another popular alternative to soda because it does not contain sugar. This may be true, but these sodas are still highly acidic. The average diet soda still has a pH of about 3.3, which is not much higher than regular soda.
These sodas may even be worse because people often become more addicted to them, possibly because the artificial sweeteners don’t stimulate the brain the same way natural sodas do. One study even showed that diet soda’s effect on teeth could be as bad as meth or crack.
Consume These Beverages with Care
Knowing that these refreshments can damage your teeth does not mean you should never drink them. In moderation, these drinks will not be as harmful to your teeth. Keep in mind that nursing your beverage throughout the day is more damaging than drinking it all at once. Consume it all in one sitting instead of exposing your teeth constantly throughout the day. You should also rinse your mouth with water following these drinks to remove some of the sugar and acid. Avoid brushing your teeth for at least an hour after enjoying one of these beverages to prevent damaging your softened enamel.
For more tips on protecting your tooth enamel or to repair damage done by sugary drinks, please call (407) 834-6446 to set up an appointment with Dr. Weinstock today.