We all know that soda is bad for us. And since the 90s we have stepped off. But, still, an average American consumes 45 gallons of soda every year. And over half of Americans have at least some soda every day. Men are the most likely to drink sugary drinks, teenage boys, especially, consuming 273 calories in the form of soda a day. And that number only falls to 252 in their 20s and 30s.
The problem soda poses is multifaceted. The first cause of tooth decay is always sugar. Some believe it is the carbonation, but this is a misconception, for sparkling water does not pose the same risks. Most colas do contain either phosphoric acid or citric acids, which are quite harmful. And then sodas with caffeine have an extra risk to them.
The major culprit in soda’s ill effects on your teeth is the exorbitant amounts of sugar inside. This sugar causes a reaction that will take place on your teeth for the next twenty minutes after each sip of soda. It actually occurs between the bacteria in your mouth and the sugar, and it works to break down your tooth’s layer of enamel.
When putting soda side-by-side to any other beverage, they far outrank them in sugar content. According to a 2006 study, both cola drinks and root beers outweigh water in enamel dissolution by 55-65 times. And canned iced tea or coffee is 30 times more destructive than a brewed black tea or coffee. Mountain Dew and other non-cola related sodas like Sunkist were reported to do two to five times worse than their cola counterparts.
In fact, the phrase “Mountain Dew Mouth” has been a staple for a long time, coined in Diane Sawyer’s famous 2009 documentary, Children of the Mountains. One of the reasons Mountain Dew is worse is that it does have more sugar. But not that much more. It also uses citric acid for its flavoring as compared to Coca-Cola’s phosphoric acid. Because citric acid is organic, it reacts and breaks down organic material like bone and tissue in your mouth more easily.
What Can Help
If you cannot completely cut yourself off of soda, then there are some tips. To start with, stick to one a day. And if you are going to have one, stay away from the more harmful ones. One way to mitigate the effects of sugar on your teeth is to drink from a straw. This way, it bypasses your teeth for part of the way.
Skip energy drinks altogether. You are better off getting your caffeine from elsewhere. If you want to drink tea or coffee, brew it yourself. Canned tea or bottled coffee can have as much sugar as a can of soda.
You can also drink an extra glass of milk or fortified orange juice to provide the nutrients you might be missing. Do not drink too much orange juice, though, for it has citric acid as well.
We recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day. Rinse your mouth after drinking soda or eating sugary food. And wait an hour after eating before brushing your teeth. To maintain your teeth’s health and repair any damages that soda has caused, make sure to regularly see your dentist.