Think before you drink: Erosion of tooth enamel from soda pop is permanent

by Vicky Cerino

(Medical Xpress)—You may be saving calories by drinking diet soda, but when it comes to enamel erosion of your teeth, it's no better than regular soda.

In the last 25 years, Kim McFarland, D.D.S., associate professor in the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry in Lincoln, has seen an increase in the number of with erosion of the – the protective layer of the tooth. Once erosion occurs, it can't be reversed and affects people their whole life.

"I'd see erosion once in a while 25 years ago but I see much more prevalence nowadays," Dr. McFarland said. "A lot of young people drink massive quantities of soda. It's no surprise we're seeing more sensitivity."

Triggers like hot and cold drinks – and even cold air – reach the tooth's nerve and cause pain. Depending on the frequency and amount of soda consumed, the erosion process can be extreme.

She said the National Soft Drink Association estimates the average American drinks 44 gallons of soda a year. Phosphoric and , which are common ingredients in many popular sodas and diet sodas, alters the pH balance in the mouth and can cause over time.

"It can be more harmful than cavities because the damage causes ," Dr. McFarland said. "If a tooth is decayed, a dentist can fix it by placing a filling, but if a tooth is sensitive there is really nothing a dentist can do.

"Tooth sensitivity can become a lifetime problem, limiting things we like to drink and even . "It hurts to consume cold and hot foods and beverages. Some of my patients tell me when they go outside in the winter they don't open their mouth because the cold air causes pain."

You could crown all your teeth but that is costly and a rather extreme solution."

Dr. McFarland said a significant number of scientific studies have shown a relationship between the consumption of soda and enamel erosion and cavities.

She said it's best not to drink soda at all, but she offers tips for those who continue to drink it:

  • Limit consumption of soda to meal time;
  • Don't drink soda throughout the day;
  • Brush your teeth afterwards—toothpaste re-mineralizes or strengthens areas where acid weakened the teeth;
  • If tooth brushing is not possible, at least rinse out your mouth with water;
  • Chew sugar free gum or better yet, gum containing Xylitol.

Provided by University of Nebraska Medical Center

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Soda and illegal drugs cause similar damage to teeth

May 28, 2013

Addicted to soda? You may be shocked to learn that drinking large quantities of your favorite carbonated soda could be as damaging to your teeth as methamphetamine and crack cocaine use. The consumption of illegal drugs and ...

Root beer may be 'safest' soft drink for teeth

Mar 20, 2007

Exposing teeth to soft drinks, even for a short period of time, causes dental erosion—and prolonged exposure can lead to significant enamel loss. Root beer products, however, are non-carbonated and do not contain the acids ...

Common habits that harm your teeth

May 03, 2013

Are you wrecking your teeth without even knowing it? For instance, chewing on ice or opening stuff with your teeth may be convenient but using your teeth as tools can cause them to crack or chip.

Recommended for you

Roman-Britons had less gum disease than modern Britons

Oct 23, 2014

The Roman-British population from c. 200-400 AD appears to have had far less gum disease than we have today, according to a study of skulls at the Natural History Museum led by a King's College London periodontist. The surprise ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.