Sugar free sodas and cavities

Soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks.. and tooth decay

Is sipping a soft drink, or hydrating with a sports drink part of your daily routine? It may be time to reconsider. Few items we consume on a daily basis have a higher sugar content than the soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks we enjoy.

With each sip, your teeth are coated with a sugary film that fuels the bacteria in your mouth, producing acid that weakens the enamel of your teeth. This reaction lasts about 20 minutes, and starts over every time you take a sip[1]. Studies have shown that sugar free soft drinks aren’t much better. These drinks tend to be very acidic, causing nearly the same amount of erosion of the dental enamel as their sugar filled counterparts[2].

Health benefits abound, if you are able to kick the soft drink habit altogether. High levels of sugar consumption have been linked to a number of serious medical conditions[3]:

– Diabetes                                  – Obesity

– Heart disease                         – Increased risk of cancer

– Higher cholesterol                – Cognitive decline

Consider this: one 12oz can of soda has about 39g of sugar – more than the recommended daily allowance of added sugar for men (37.5g) and women (25g), according the American Heart Association.

If you are finding it difficult to eliminate soft drinks (or sports drinks / energy drinks) altogether, here are some tips to minimize the harmful effects of these drinks on your teeth:

1) Drink soft drinks with a straw. Using a straw will help keep the harmful sugars and acids away from your teeth.

2) Drink it quickly. Sipping a soft drink over long periods will only increase its harmful effects on your teeth. Once finished, rinse your mouth out with water to flush away the sugars and acids.

3) Wait before you brush! Your teeth are more vulnerable after drinking a soda, when the acids have weakened the enamel. The friction of brushing may actually harm your teeth. Wait 30-60 minutes before brushing your teeth.

4) Visit your dentist regularly. We can treat small problems before they become big problems.

[1] WDA.org, Sip All Day, Get Decay, Retrieved from: http://www.wda.org/your-oral-health/sip-all-day

[1] Oral Health CRC, The potential of sugar-free beverages, sugar-free confectionery and sports drinks to cause dental erosion, retrieved from: https://oralhealthcrc.org.au/content/dental-damage-caused-sugar-free-drinks

[1] Lauren Friedman, 2014, 15 Terrible things that happen if you eat too much sugar, retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com.au/effects-of-eating-too-much-sugar-2014-3