Why Are Some Sodas Worse for Your Teeth Than Others?
Soda and Your Smile
Soda is a beverage that over half of the American population enjoys daily, and of those 165 million people, the average amount consumed is about two and a half glasses.
Drinking soda in excess has been linked to countless health consequences, including an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and obesity. It can also be detrimental to your smile leading to cavities and even visible tooth decay.
While we don’t expect you to stop drinking soda altogether, we might be able to make you more conscious about which soda you’re grabbing from the fridge. Below, we’ll discuss the effects of different types of sodas, and why one might be worse for your smile than others.
One way to stay ahead of tooth decay is by visiting your dentist for routine checkups. If you live in the Western Suburbs of Chicago, contact Dr. Keith Bram. He’s an expertly trained dentist whose skills range from general dentistry to comprehensive dental implant treatment.
Why Is Soda Bad for Your Teeth?
Before we get into why certain sodas are worse for your teeth than others, it’s crucial to understand why soda is bad in the first place.
There are two main reasons your smile suffers when you drink soda:
- Erosion — This occurs when the acids in sodas come into contact with your tooth enamel (the outermost layer protecting your teeth). The more often soda is left to encounter the enamel, the more it reduces its surface hardness.
- Cavities — The next layer after the enamel is called dentin. When soda meets with this inner layer, it can continue to weaken your tooth and create cavities, which can lead to severe toothaches, infection, and tooth loss.
You can mitigate the damage in a few ways. For example, you can use a straw to keep the harmful acids and sugars away from your smile. You could also rinse your mouth with water afterward to flush out any remaining adverse ingredients and stop them from attacking your teeth.
Dr. Roman Shlafer in Farmington Hills, MI recommends waiting 30 to 60 minutes after drinking soda before brushing. The reason behind this is that brushing can damage recently acid-attacked teeth before your saliva has time to dilute them.
What Makes Certain Sodas Worse?
There’s an array of reasons why sodas destroy your teeth — some faster than others.
One of the main things to consider when choosing a soda is the amount of sugar it contains. Sugar latches onto your teeth and becomes a feast for bacteria that reside in your mouth, which eventually produce acid that erodes the enamel on your teeth.
Typical sodas with the highest sugar content (measured in teaspoons) include:
- Sunkist® Orange Soda (13)
- Mountain Dew (12)
- Vault Energy Soda (12)
- SoBe Energy Citrus (12)
- Pepsi (11)
Other notable drinks include:
- Sprite® (10)
- Dr. Pepper (10)
- Diet Coke (0)
Acidity (pH Level)
Another way to measure which sodas are worse for your teeth is to compare their acidity by using the pH scale. In case you’ve forgotten since high school chemistry, the pH scale ranges from 0 to 14.
A pH level of 7, such as pure water, is neutral. Anything lower than that is acidic, and anything higher is basic. For the sake of this article, we’re only interested in numbers smaller than 7. Enamel begins to dissolve below 5.5 pH, and dentin dissolves below 6.5 pH.
Common sodas with the lowest pH levels include:
- RC Cola (2.3)
- Coca-Cola (2.5)
- Pepsi (2.5)
- SoBe Energy Citrus (2.6)
- Dr. Pepper (2.9)
Other notable drinks and their acidity levels (measured in pH) include:
- Sunkist Orange Soda (2.9)
- Mountain Dew (3.3)
- Barq’s Root Beer (4.0)
There are two significant acids that these sodas contain:
Phosphoric acid — this form of acid is found naturally in your body. It helps you build strong bones and teeth, while also assisting kidney function and managing how your body stores energy. It’s actually more common to have too much of this acid in your diet than too little. If you have too much, the calcium in your body will deplete, leading to bone deterioration and bone loss.
Citric acid — another form of acid that’s found naturally in your body, citric acid is used as a preservative and flavoring agent in your favorite sodas. Citric acid is extremely damaging to tooth enamel, and the results are even worse when these two types of acids are combined.
For more information about the harmful effects of these acids and techniques to combat them, contact Dr. Jeffery Platt in Colorado Springs. He’s a comprehensive dentist who also specializes in Invisalign®, so he’ll be able to explain the severe effects of drinking soda regularly.
Last but not least, there’s a third measure — interrelated to pH levels — that helps us determine which sodas are worse for your smile. Titratable acidity collects the total acidity level of food, or in this case, sodas.
The different measurement is the reason why tooth enamel dissolves faster in Mountain Dew than Coca-Cola, even though Coke’s pH level is lower. The pH levels only take into account fully ionized acids, while titratable acidity accounts for partial and full ionization.
Protect Your Smile Today
Now that you have a better understanding of the effects soda has on your smile, and why some are worse for your teeth than others, you may decide to grab a water between sodas. If you want to stop drinking soda altogether, you might benefit from drinking sparkling water — it will give you the refreshing bubbly taste that you crave, but without the enamel-attacking properties.
Finally, you can defend your smile by visiting a dentist for routine checkups and cleanings. If you live in Orange County, Dr. Brooks Larson provides the best possible care to his patients, and he’d love to help you protect your smile.