If you drink soda—any kind of soda—then you have likely noticed that it makes your teeth feel a bit unusual. People use terms like weird, funny, sticky, gritty, and even rubbery. However, when you perceive the sensation, it is caused by the acids in soda that are attacking your teeth with each sip.
Soda is bad for your body for many different reasons. Some people turn to diet soda as a healthier alternative, and while it may certainly cut down on empty calories, it is by no means better for you.
There is a common misconception that since diet soda lacks sugar, it is better for your teeth. But sugar is only one of the problems with soda. A much bigger concern is the high levels of acidity, and the acids commonly found in soda are carbonic acid, citric acid, and phosphoric acid.
Even More Acidic Additives
Did you know that diet soda actually has higher acid levels than regular soda? Soda makers use additional acids to offset the lack of sugar, and while it may seem counterintuitive, diet soda can actually be worse for your teeth for that reason. In fact, the acids in the soda not only begin attacking your teeth as soon as you drink some but continue to attack them for up to 20 minutes after your last sip. If you are someone who drinks diet soda throughout the day, your teeth can be under constant attack!
Breaking Down Your Enamel
Dental erosion is the wearing away of your enamel—the surface of your teeth—by acid. Stomach acids, such as from acid reflux or vomiting, can cause dental erosion, but dietary sources are by far the leading causes. These include soda but also citrus fruits and juices, wine, vinegar, and even vitamin water.
If dental erosion is not prevented or treated, your enamel will continue to erode and will eventually be destroyed. Enamel is the first line of defense. After it is compromised, the foundation of your teeth is exposed, and if erosion is severe enough, the enamel will not be able to come back on its own.
Beyond Dental Erosion
Among the earliest symptoms of enamel damage is tooth sensitivity. That foundation that is now exposed is quite sensitive and reacts not just to acids but low and high temperatures. You may notice discomfort when drinking cold liquids, eating hot meals, and snacking on sugary treats. At this point, your teeth become susceptible to cavities. You may experience pain, and left untreated, that decay will eventually lead to loss of the tooth, which can have a negative cascade effect on your oral health.
Consider Alternatives to Diet Soda
Positive enamel health is essential to strong teeth. If you treat yourself to a diet cola on occasion, be sure to rinse your mouth vigorously with water afterward. You can also chew some sugar-free gum in order to promote saliva production and wash those acids away.
If you drink diet soda on a regular basis, you make the job of keeping your teeth healthy much more difficult. Even consistently good dental hygiene may not be enough. You should really limit your consumption. Nothing beats plain old water for refreshment. If you prefer some flavor, consider flavor additives, but be mindful of your choices. Something like lemongrass oil is a solid choice, but common options like lemon and lime are not ideal since they add the very same acids you are seeking to avoid.
Protect Your Tooth Enamel
Protecting your tooth enamel begins at home with proper and consistent dental hygiene. In addition, it is crucial that you visit your dentist every six months. Your dentist can clean your teeth, inspect your enamel, help you adjust your at-home dental care, and advise you on in-office treatments if any are required. Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, is among the leading dentists in Scottsdale and would love to help. If you would like to schedule a visit with Dr. Jeff, call Scottsdale Dental Excellence today at 480 585 1853.