Diet Soda is Just as Bad for Your Teeth as Regular Soda

coke bottles in a vending machine

How Soda Harms Your Teeth

You’re probably no stranger to the fact that sugar leads to tooth decay. In addition to other health effects, many sodas are chock full of sugar. Sugar has long been associated with the development of cavities and health conditions.


Dentist Dr. Miriam Dani in Kenilworth, IL often warns her patients against consuming too much sugar due to this fact. Dental work might end up becoming more extensive and expensive if you eat a lot of sugar.


So with the advent of diet soda, it seems like the soda problem would be solved. But the truth is, even sugar-free sodas are really harmful to your teeth. 

Sugar Isn’t the Most Harmful Part

the pH scale

While consuming tons of sugar does affect the health of your body and teeth, it isn’t the only factor that makes soda bad for your oral health. What’s become apparent to researchers is that the pH level of sodas and drinks determines how harmful they can be.


The pH levels of drinks show how acidic they are. The issue with acidic sodas is that when the pH level is below a certain number, they erode your enamel, which happens when pH levels of a drink are below 4.00. 


There are many drinks besides sodas that are harmful to your teeth due to acidity. For example, many canned iced teas like Brisk® and Arizona® teas often cause more damage than some sodas.


Enamel erodes when the pH level of the drink is more acidic than enamel’s pH level, which is about 4.00. Once enamel is gone, it doesn’t grow back. That’s why dentists like Dr. John Leitner are so concerned with the protection of your teeth.



The Most Harmful Sodas

  • Coca-Cola® and Pepsi®

Two of the most popular soda brands are on this list, with no surprise. In addition to being full of sugar, various drinks from these two brands also happen to be very acidic. 

Coca-Cola Classic has a pH level of 2.37, while Pepsi’s pH level is around 2.39. Other forms of the companies’ drinks, like Pepsi Max and Coca-Cola Cherry, are also below 4.00.

The diet versions of Coke and Pepsi are slightly better than their original counterparts, at 3.10 and 3.02 respectively. But they’re still very acidic, being well under the safe 4.00 mark.

  • Ginger Ale

Many people like ginger ale because it can provide a soothing effect on the stomach. That’s why it’s one of the most popular drinks on airplanes.

Unfortunately, this stomach-soothing drink is rather harmful to your teeth. Canada Dry® ginger ale is a 2.82 on the pH scale, well below safe levels. But if you limit this soda to the plane, you should be okay.

  • Fruity Soda

Many fruits are acidic on their own, with nearly all fruit juices falling below 4.00. Adding in scoops of sugar and carbonation, which increases acidity, on top of fruit juice only makes them worse.

Crush® Grape and Orange both have pH levels below 3.00. Other harmful fruity sodas like Hawaiian Punch®, Sunkist®, and Fanta® are no better.

The Best Drinks for Your Teeth

  • Water

This should be no surprise as water is a vital part of our bodies and lives. Without water, we would die.

The pH of bottled water tends to fall from 5.00-6.00 on the pH scale, so it’s not erosive to your enamel. Tap water is often closer to being a neutral 7.00, but that depends on where you live.

  • Milk

The debate over whether you should drink cow’s milk or not is strong but at least for your teeth, whole milk can be strengthening.

It also doesn’t damage your teeth because its pH level is around 6.70 to 6.90, which is very close to neutral. Non-dairy milk alternatives have pH levels of around 6.00.

  • Root Beer

Alright, so this isn’t really the best drink for your teeth. But if you’re missing soda, root beer is one of the least harmful sodas you can drink. 

Most brands of root beer have a pH level of above 4.00, so if you make sure to take care of your teeth and don’t drink it all the time, your teeth won’t become completely eroded.

Protecting Your Teeth

By now we all know soda isn’t healthy, so let’s not pretend it is. That doesn’t mean you have to ban it from your life. Even though you know it may cause damage to your body and teeth, sometimes you just want a refreshing can of Coke.


Proper dental care is essential for ensuring you don’t develop cavities. Dentists like Dr. Scott Clinton recommend brushing and flossing your teeth every day, as well as making it to your regular dental cleanings, which are vital to protecting those pearly whites.


Aside from that, you can rinse out your mouth with water when you’re done drinking soda. This helps to reduce the amount of acid on your teeth and reduces the risk of damage. As long as you don’t drink soda all the time and practice oral hygiene, your teeth should be fine.