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

August 7, 2013 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.

Explore further: Sports and energy drinks responsible for irreversible damage to teeth

Related Stories

Common habits that harm your teeth

May 3, 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.

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 ...

Recommended for you

Earliest evidence of dental cavity manipulation found

July 20, 2015

A large team of researchers with members from institutions in Italy, Germany and Australia has found what they claim is the earliest example of dental cavity manipulation. In their paper published in the journal Scientific ...

Researchers use light to coax stem cells to regrow teeth

May 28, 2014

A Harvard-led team is the first to demonstrate the ability to use low-power light to trigger stem cells inside the body to regenerate tissue, an advance they reported in Science Translational Medicine. The research, led by ...

Genetic signature reveals new way to classify gum disease

March 21, 2014

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) have devised a new system for classifying periodontal disease based on the genetic signature of affected tissue, rather than on clinical signs and symptoms. The new ...


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.