Think it’s the Sugar in Soda that is Bad for your Teeth? Think Again!

Most of us are aware that soda can really do a number on our teeth and our general state of oral health. In response to the dangers of sugar, not to mention of the unnecessary calories, many people have made a switch from regular soda to diet soda, or have given up soda altogether and now drink beverages made with seltzer water or other sugar-free alternatives. What has been discovered is that sugar is only one of the dangers of popular beverages.

Sugar-free May not Translate into Fewer Cavities

When you try to make healthier choices, you expect a reward for your efforts. Understandably, there is a sense of pleasure in a fizzy, bubbly beverage. However, those bubbles can be damaging to your teeth. To make a liquid carbonated, even water, carbonic acid forms. This acid changes the pH level of the liquid, even water. When flat, water is neutral, with a pH level of 7. If you carbonate that water, the pH can drop as low as 3, or as “high” as 4, which is still too acidic for the oral environment.

Why pH Matters

The mouth can be naturally acidic, and our dietary choices can exacerbate this condition. Sugar is not acidic, but it is what oral bacteria live on. These organisms deposit acidic byproduct in areas where they have accumulated, and cavities shortly follow. This is why we should avoid sugar. But, sugar-free options can also be acidic, and this can be even worse. When acidic beverages are consumed, teeth are essentially “washed” in substances that cause widespread erosion.

Enamel erodes at about 5.5 pH. What was that number for carbonated water? 4, at the highest.

What about Non-Carbonated Beverages

Your dentist is not in the business of robbing you of some of the simple pleasures in life. At Deer Park Dental, it is our intent to help you keep your natural teeth for your entire lifetime. This is why we discuss the difficult topics like dietary habits.

Non-carbonated beverages such as Gatorade or cranberry juice may seem better options for healthier teeth. However, their pH levels sit at just over 3, and just under 3, respectively. A number of juices and processed beverages contain acidic ingredients, lowering their pH, and increasing the risk for erosion. This is especially significant for children whose teeth are still developing.

What to Do

The news is not all doom and gloom. There are ways to protect your teeth from erosion. Our top recommendation is to trade acidic beverages for water as often as possible. When you do drink something acidic, rinse your mouth with water afterward. Then, make sure you visit your dentist every 6 months so we can monitor your oral health.

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