A far too common misconception about oral health and soda is that diet soda has no sugar so it doesn’t harm teeth. Though diet soda doesn’t directly cause cavities it promotes an environment that is beneficial for the bacteria that create cavities, aka “acid loving bacteria”. An important point needs to be addressed here. Not all bacteria in our mouth are disease producing (causing cavities, or periodontal disease). By continually having an acidic environment through ingestion of acids (soda, fruit juices, energy drinks, sugar filled snacks), we promote the growth of acid loving bacteria and increase the likelihood of cavity formation. Not only does the acid promote the “bad bacteria”, it also contributes to loss of enamel by bathing the teeth continuously with each sip of diet or regular soda. This is know as erosion.
Quick tips to help prevent acid erosion, and promotion of acid loving bacteria.
(1) Limit your consumption of acidic drinks – like all activities in life, it is a developed habit, and therefore can be changed. Consider limiting your daily diet soda to one can.
(2) Limit the amount of time your mouth is exposed to acids – drink your diet soda and be done with it…the worst habit is sipping all day, also drinking through a straw can by-pass the teeth all together.
(3) Enjoy your soda with a glass of water – simply by drinking some water when you are finished can help remove the acid contents in your mouth (hint:swish with it). IMPORTANT: Avoid immediately brushing your teeth after consumption of acidic foods or drinks as this only acts as an abrasive that can further damage your enamel.
Its amazing to me how small adjustments in our habits can make drastic changes in our lives. Life is all about balance, and being an individual who enjoys an occasional soda, these are ways I have my cake and eat it too! Spring is on its way friends….there are lots of reasons to SMILE!
Dr. Brandon Helgeson